Hockey fans will have to wait at least one additional year for international best-on-best action to return.
The NHL and its players' association announced on Friday that the World Cup of Hockey, initially proposed to occur in February 2024, would not be feasible.
No further explanation for the decision was provided, but the note said plans remain in place to possibly conduct the tournament in February 2025.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 11, 2022
The sport has been starved of true best-on-best competition for nearly a decade, with the last World Cup being held in 2016 in Toronto. Some of the wrinkles during that tournament, namely the inclusion of the U23 Team North America, as well as the catch-all Team Europe, mean that true best-on-best action hasn’t occurred since 2014, when NHL players last went to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Speculation that the tournament could be in jeopardy began percolating several weeks ago, well ahead of the NHL and NHLPA’s decision to postpone the event.
In late October, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that while in Finland on the NHL’s Global Tour, time had become of the essence, with a belief that if there was going to be a World Cup, details needed to have been finalized during the summer.
LeBrun also noted the ongoing conundrum of what to do with Russian players, whose team is currently barred from competing in IIHF competition due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
"The bottom line is, there are still outstanding issues with the IIHF that have not been addressed and of course, the elephant in the room... what to do with Russia?” Lebrun said. “There are other countries who don't want Russia to play in that tournament because of the war in Ukraine.”
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