Saturday, May 11, 2013

The (Possible) Return of the World Cup of Hockey

The World Cup of Hockey was a late summer event in 1996 and 2004 that pitted the best of hockey's best international teams again each other. The NHL organized event was designed to be the successor to the Canada Cup, and was successful, until the 2004-05 lockout doomed any hope of it returning, along with the increased importance of the Olympic Tournament. Now, as per reports from Russia, and the new transfer agreement the NHL signed allowed for, the World Cup of Hockey could be returning in 2016, maybe even with IIHF backing. This is great for the NHL and the IIHF, but what does it really mean? A few quick thoughts:

- Expect this event to replace the Olympics as the dominant international hockey tournament, and the Olympic tournament will end up becoming similar to what it is for soccer, a U-23 or maybe even a U-20 tournament.

- Since the World Cup of hockey will be likely in late August or early September, and with the NHL and IIHF blessing, there will never be a problem with NHL players playing in the tournament, unlike the mess that is getting the NHL to Sochi.

- Everyone like the revenue the NHL is generating now? This will be a massive windfall for the league, so all the residual effects of a new TV deal apply here, including a possible raise in the salary cap.

- The IIHF World Championship, already marginalized by when it takes place on the calendar, will probably end up bowing out the year of each World Cup, if the IIHF doesn't want to even further minimize the importance of that tournament.

- The World Cup will probably take place before training camps open in the NHL, so releasing players to play will also not be a problem.

- The NHL and hockey will have a showcase event for the sport not marginalized by the rest of the Winter Olympics, and will take place at a good time for viewing as well at the end of the summer.

- Everybody involved wins!

The return of the World Cup of Hockey is not a certain thing to work, but the good days of the Canada Cup and the old World Cup of Hockey could be coming back, and everybody involved at the highest levels of the sport will win, and with the Olympics it's not a sure thing everyone does. Whether it will end up like the soccer World Cup, who knows, but hockey fans might have a good new marquee event to look forward to every 4 years.

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