Wednesday, September 9, 2015

2016 World Cup of Hockey…and what does that mean for the NHL’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics?

Today, in Toronto, the NHL and the NHL Players Association announced the World Cup of Hockey and the format for the tournament that is scheduled to take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from September 17-October 1, 2016.

With this announcement today, what does this mean for the NHL’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea? As of right now, there isn’t an answer on the NHL’s involvement in the South Korea games. When asked about the impact of the World Cup of Hockey (which hasn’t been played since 2004), Gary Bettman told the AP “I don’t think one has anything to do with the other.” However, both sides have dodged answering about the Olympics. The AP did state that the players "made it very clear they want to keep going to the Winter Olympics every four years," along with the sentiment of the team owners "don't seem to like shutting down their league for two-plus weeks in the season while hoping their stars don't get injured at the Olympics." (The issue was raised about stars being injured in the Olympics when the Islanders' John Tavares suffered an MCL and meniscus while playing for Team Canada in the 2014 Sochi games and missed the rest of the season). 

Talks have not been scheduled regarding the NHL's involvement in the 2018 games in South Korea with the International Ice Hockey Federation. 

The two week tournament will feature approximately 150 NHL players. had the following quote from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the creation of Team North America and Team Europe:

"Those two teams, they're more competitive than any other country team would have been for this event, so it will make the competition more competitive as well...Otherwise, you would have had a country with maybe just a couple of NHL players. Now you have what are going to be two very strong teams highlighting more NHL players being included than any other way we could have done it."

However, the World Cup of Hockey is not without it's critics. Tom Gulitti (Devils beat writer for The Record) posted this criticism on Twitter:

(courtesy of

The level of play at this tournament will have to wait to be seen. I'm pretty sure there will be more coming out in regards to questions about the level of play as the tournament draws closer. 


The following format was announced, along with the team pools, and schedule for the tournament:

Team Groups:

Group A:

Team Canada
Team Czech Republic
Team Europe
Team USA

Group B:

Team FinlandTeam North AmericaTeam RussiaTeam Sweden

(Team North America will be made up of North American players who are 23 and younger, while Team Europe will consist of players from other countries, such as Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, et al). 

The schedule is:

Preliminary Round (round robin)
Saturday, Sept. 17
Team Europe vs. Team USA, 3:30 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 18
Team Russia vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Finland vs. Team North America, 8 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 19
Team Czech Republic vs. Team Europe, 3 p.m.
Team North America vs. Team Russia, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 20
Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 21
Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 22
Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m.
Team Czech Republic vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.
Semifinals (single elimination; A1 vs. B2, B1 vs. A2)
Saturday, Sept. 24
Semifinal 1, TBD
Sunday, Sept. 25
Semifinal 2, TBD
Final (best-of-three)
Tuesday, Sept. 27
Final Game 1, 8 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 29
Final Game 2, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 1
Final Game 3, 7 p.m. (if necessary)
(Schedule and group information courtesy of
According to, the tournament will be played using NHL rules and officials. 

It will be interesting to see how this World Cup of Hockey plays out, considering it's going to be taking place during teams' training camp, leading up to the start of the 2016-17 NHL season. 

(link to article NHL, NHLPA unveil plans for 2016 World Cup)