The NHL and the NHL Players Association on Friday abandoned plans to stage a February 2024 World Cup as they had hoped, saying in a joint statement that “it is not possible” in the current environment.
There is uncertainty about what to do with players from Russia since the country’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year and the ongoing war there. Some countries did not want the Russians to participate, even if under a different name and without the national team uniform as happened in the last Olympic Games as a punishment for state-sponsored doping.
“Disappointed or not, you want peace in the world,” said Swedish defenseman Viktor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “That’s the whole point.”
The players want to field the best in the world – a group that includes a number of Russians – and that has created a stalemate as time runs out to put the World Cup together.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley said, “The conflict in Ukraine makes it difficult to deal with the Russian issue, and we’ve certainly heard from some participating countries or countries that will object to Russia participating in the World Cup.” Last month. “Obviously it’s (that’s) something important and we’ll take that into account in terms of making decisions.”
The federation and federation said they hope to stage the event in February 2025 and will continue to plan for that. Delays buy the league and players time to figure things out.
The World Cup is a showcase for hockey in non-Olympic years but has not been held since 2016 and the NHL’s participation in the Olympics has also been sporadic. World Championships have been reliably held in the meantime but they often overlap with the NHL playoffs and therefore do not include some of the best players in the world.
Unlike soccer, which banned Russia from the World Cup finals due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, many of the best hockey players are from there and the impact will be much greater. No Russian participation would mean excluding the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Malkin, Andrei Vasilevsky and Nikita Kucherov.
“Obviously, you’ve always wanted to represent your country and make your Russian fans happy,” Vasilevsky, the two-time Stanley Cup-winning guard with Tampa Bay, said recently. “I’m not sure what will happen next. It’s a bit complicated now. I mean, I hope we can play there as a Russia team, because now we have a lot of good, talented young hockey players from Russia. And it will be really fun to play together.”
Americans Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews and Canadians Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid have not been able to play together internationally against the best players in the world because there has not been a World Cup in six years and the National Hockey League has not gone to the past two Olympians.
Commissioner Gary Pittman predicted the decision at the league’s board of governors meeting on October 18, saying the deadline for making plans was approaching. There were other hurdles, such as cooperating with the International Ice Hockey Federation and national federations on hosting games in Europe, but the league and the players were confident they could do the tournament themselves, if necessary.
Two months ago, when it looked like the World Cup was really going to happen, American superstar Jack Eichel said, “Don’t hold your breath,” in a skeptical tone that turned out to be justified.
“We’re trying to grow hockey globally,” said Eichel. “Whether it’s representing your country or having the chance to play against the best player in the world, everybody wants to do that. I think it’s something the fans want to see. I think it’s great for our game.”
There is optimism about 2025 and extra time may allow a qualifying tournament to decide who will join the obvious teams: the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic – and possibly Russia, depending on the global climate.
The 2016 World Cup closely followed the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. The NHL chose to skip the 2018 Olympics and planned to compete in 2022 in China before the pandemic disrupted the schedule enough to derail those hopes.
The NHL has committed to sending two players to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina.
Hedman said, “The only thing I want to play is the Olympics and you’re just looking now and that’s still on track.” “You want to be in these tournaments where the best are, but it’s going to take a little bit longer.”
Read all files The latest sports news over here