author: brady lang | sports writer
Inaugural competition drawing interest
Well I’ll be damned, the World Cup of Hockey is actually awesome.
Even though we’re only three days in, the World Cup is shaping up to be one of the best tournaments to watch, preparing for the 2016-17 NHL season.
Leading up to the tournament, I don’t think we had anything really comparable other than the Olympics. This was the first time since 2004 that the World Cup was played, yet it seems as though Gary Bettman and company actually did something correct, for once (just give them hockey in Quebec already, Gary).
The addition of the two “combined teams” gives it a different feel. Team Europe and Team North America are both competing, and are actually leading the tournament at the time of production. They still haven’t played an impressive Team Canada, who look to have this tournament in the bag already. The Canadian team is beatable, for sure, losing in the pre-tournament games, but at the same time what happens when it comes to the finals when it’s a three-game mini series? The teams are good, but beating Canada in two out of three games may be a stretch.
When it comes down to it, in theory the only team that can beat Canada is the North American squad. Guys like Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, and Aaron Ekblad all would have been playing on Team Canada and Team USA if it weren’t for this team. The only reason they’re so good is because no one can catch them. Team Europe stuck with them until the third in their first pre-tournament game, but the guys like Zdeno Chara couldn’t keep up to the young guns’ legs.
As the tournament progresses, we will see more upsets, yet Team Europe somehow has rung up two wins in their first two games. Led by Anze Kopitar, they have been backstopped by Jaroslav Halak, they see themselves at the top of Group A.
To have a tournament leading up to the season, mainly to generate more revenue and try out a few things, is perfect for the NHL. They’re testing out ads on the jerseys and digital ads on the boards during gameplay.
I hope that the NHL decides to continue on with this tournament and continues with the current format. The additions of Team Europe and Team North America are unorthodox, yet they still fit in with the way the organizers are shaping this tournament. At the beginning of the tournament, I predicted Team North America taking it, and I do stand beside my word, but at the same time, that Canadian team is just too damn good.
I’m just hoping the tournament continues to be this entertaining until the bitter end, with Connor MacDavid hoisting that ridiculously ugly trophy over his head as Team North America takes the tournament.