With NHL players officially withdrawn from participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the urge to play in a best-on-best tournament is higher than ever in recent memory.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, who had this to say after the league officially withdrew from the Winter Olympics:
To me, the quote from McDavid was interesting…, but ironically enough, the caption in the tweet itself caught my attention more. It would make sense for McDavid to call for another World Cup of Hockey since he suited up for the dynamic and exciting Team North America in the last tournament that took place in 2016. It would also make a ton of sense for any player to comment on that, considering how successful that 2016 tournament was, but when it’s the best player in the world saying it, I’m sure it’s heard a little louder by the league’s front offices.
So, let’s get into it… why should the World Cup of Hockey make a comeback if the Olympics are a no-go?
Well, we’ll start with the obvious: the league would have full say (or as close to it as it gets) in terms of how this tournament is put together. The 2016 tournament was described as a “joint effort of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and National Hockey League (NHL®), in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).”Well, we’ll start with the obvious: the league would have full say (or as close to it as it gets) in terms of how this tournament is put together. On the other hand, The Winter Olympics (while still in conjunction with the IIHF) has a lot of its rules predetermined by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A World Cup of Hockey Esque tournament would allow the NHL to oversee its operations, rather than having to cooperate with a more prominent figure.
We’ll split this one into two parts- players and arenas. Starting with the topic of players, it’s pretty likely that most players participating would already be in North America, eliminating a significant portion of the risks associated with going overseas. In addition, the World Cup of Hockey would allow the NHL to pick a location within North America, as opposed to having to travel abroad to take part in the Olympics. In addition, the World Cup of Hockey would allow the NHL to pick a location within North America, as opposed to having to travel overseas to take part in the Olympics. There might be a few players here and there traveling from overseas to play if an event like this were to happen, but that’s a bridge that can be crossed when it’s gotten to.
Now, let’s get into arenas. Looking back at the 2016 tournament for reference, Scotiabank Arena (named Air Canada Centre back then) was the main venue for the tournament. However, several NHL rinks host games, including pre-tournament play. These rinks included Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Bell Centre in Montreal, Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena) in Washington D.C., and CONSOL Energy Center (now PPG Paints Arena) in Pittsburgh.
At the moment, the only hurdle the league would need to jump in terms of where the tournament would be held would be crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada, but the entire tournament would likely be held in one country this time around. I’m sure a ton of arenas would love the chance to throw their names in the hat for an opportunity to host one of these games, and hosting a game at one of the newer venues league-wide like Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle or at UBS Arena on Long Island would be intriguing for the league to make a ton of money.
To many people, the World Cup of Hockey would arguably be more popular than going to the Olympics. The Winter Olympics are an event that happens every four years, and while it’s still an event that people tune into, it gets a bit stale after a while.
The World Cup of Hockey, on the other hand, has only happened three times since its establishment in 1996 and hasn’t happened since 2016 at this point. The 2016 tournament, in particular, was one that a lot of fans look back on and wish for it to return. It also put a unique spin on the traditional international ice hockey tournament, mainly with the creation of Team Europe (which made the finals in 2016 before losing to Canada) and the aforementioned Team North America. In today’s game, a Team North America featuring players like Cale Makar, Trevor Zegras, Adam Fox, and more would be incredibly entertaining and exciting to watch, to say the least.
The ball’s in your court, Gary Bettman. Bring back the World Cup of Hockey.