The NHL and NHLPA are planning for the return of the World Cup of Hockey after an eight-year hiatus. The league is targeting 17 days in February 2024 to hold the tournament.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed that tentative plans have the event occurring both in North America and abroad in Europe. At least eight national teams will participate with the chance a qualifier will be extended to include more.
The NHL and NHLPA are expecting the World Cup of Hockey to return in 2024.https://t.co/6H1rnuptRL
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) August 24, 2022
“We’re moving full steam ahead and that means we’re continuing to have regular meetings,” Daly said. “We’re out in market already moving ahead with plans for a February 2024 World Cup. We’re still on schedule.”
The last version of the tournament, won by Canada in 2016, took place solely in Toronto. That will change in 2024. With the NHL renewing its push to promote the game internationally after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed much of their previous plans, the World Cup will be one of the first major initiatives in their global approach.
“We still want to play one pool in Europe, a preliminary round pool in Europe, and a preliminary round pool in North America and move the semifinals and the final to a different city in North America likely,” Daly said. “I think that short list would universally encompass more traditional hockey markets.”
There are also still some major questions about the teams that will make up the field. In 2016, the league put together an unorthodox approach to ensure more of their better players would be on display with the inclusion of Team Europe and the U-23 Team North America. Gone will be those “gimmick” teams as proper national qualification figures to be featured instead.
“I think longer term, that’s our plan to have a qualification tournament at another time during the calendar,” Daly said. “Given the short timeframe we have between now and February 2024, if we have a qualification stage, I think it’s part of the tournament.”
The other remaining challenge is the participation of a potential Team Russia and its athletes. The league has not reopened any of its business relationships with the country since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
“That’s one of the things we have to evaluate,” Daly told Sportsnet. “What is Russia’s participation? Is it Russia’s participation or is it the Russian players’ participation? How can that be organized if we pursue that? There are a couple moving pieces, dynamics that we’ll figure out as we go along, but we don’t think they’re going to get in the way of having the tournament.”
Russian Capitals stars, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, would likely be shoo-ins for any Russian team.
If the tournament indeed takes place as scheduled, it will be the first time any semblance of “best-on-best” international hockey has been played since the aforementioned 2016 games. The NHL has not sent its players to the Winter Olympics since the 2014 games in Sochi.
In 2016, the Capitals sent eight players from their roster to Toronto. Alex Ovechkin (Russia), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia), Dmitry Orlov (Russia), John Carlson (United States), TJ Oshie (United States), Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden), Braden Holtby (Canada), and Philipp Grubauer (Europe).
Holtby would eventually hoist the championship trophy helping down Grubauer’s Team Europe in the final. Russia and Sweden departed in the semi-finals.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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