Possible new format for the future of international hockey
Author: Harrison Brooks – Contributor
Unfortunately, it’s not looking good for fans of Olympic hockey right now. It has been rumoured that the NHL will not be returning to the Olympics in 2018, and with statements like this one from NHL’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the odds of them reconsidering do not look good.
“It’s not our tournament, we’re not in control of it. It’s at a time of year that doesn’t work in our regular season schedule.”
It sounds pretty selfish to me, but, hockey is a business and the NHL doesn’t make money off of the Olympics, so I can see where they are coming from. That being said, when the Olympics come around again without the NHL stars participating, it just won’t be the same. I’m not going to lie, I am proud of the fact that I wore my beer-soaked team Canada jersey for three full days without taking it off while Canada was in the elimination rounds of the 2014 Olympics, and I am going to be hard pressed to even watch a tournament that’s full of college and AHL players in the 2018 Olympics. The NHL is, however, still thinking of the fans, though, by coming up with a couple of ideas that will help ease the pain of losing Olympic hockey.
One of the ideas that has already been confirmed is to bring back the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, with some exciting new features. The first feature being a best of three final, although I think a best of five would be better. I still feel a best of three would be more exciting than a single elimination.
The other exciting new feature is the new teams that will be added. Of course, the six powerhouses, Canada, Sweden, Russia, USA, Finland, Czech Republic, will be there but for the final two teams one will be made up of an all-star team of players whose countries aren’t represented. This means we will finally be able to see a player like Anze Kopitar play on a competitive international team for once, instead of his native Slovenia. The final team will be a young guns team made up of 23-year-old and younger North American players. This will give guys like Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin and prospects like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel a chance to compete in this tournament. There will, however, be a few players like Nathan Mackinnon, Seth Jones, and possibly even Johnny Gaudreau, who are good enough to make their countries main teams, but will be required to suit up for the 23 and under squad because they will still be in that age category. With the addition of the All-Star team and the young guns team, I think there will be a much more competitive tournament than has been seen in the past and ultimately a better one.
According to Canadian sports journalsit Elliotte Friedman, the second idea the NHL is considering, and the one that has me most excited, is an event that in a way combines the PGA’s Ryder Cup with the famous Summit Series. This event will be a best of five, or seven, series that will pit team North America against Europe’s best. I would have liked to see a “Canada vs. the rest of the world” series, which I think would be a lot closer, because I have a feeling that North America will dominate this one. Just imagine Toews and Kane together, and Suter and Weber reunited. Crazy! This event is rumoured to be happening in the fall of 2018.
Even though it will absolutely suck to not have exciting Olympic hockey in 2018, these new events are sure to make up at least a little bit of the gap that will be left in all our lives. I, for one, am super excited to watch these new international events. In addition, as an added bonus, we won’t have to get up at three in the morning to watch Canada play like we had to for the Olympics, so that’s cool.