Wednesday, October 5, 2022

NHL stars hoping for World Cup in 2024, missed out on mourning CBC Sports

Conor McDavid has seen ample big-time opportunities slip through hockey’s fingers.

The NHL made a commercial decision when it opted to send its stars to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea after participating in five straight Winter Games.

The league was on course to return to the world’s biggest sports showcase in February as part of a 2020 deal with its players in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

But the plug was eventually pulled due to a “serious disruption” to the NHL schedule following a long list of coronavirus issues when he moved to Beijing in 2022.

The disappointment for the players – now falling back on the two Olympic quadrennials – was and is real.

Edmonton Oilers captain McDavid said, “The NHL has missed, and has missed a large part of, hockey, international sport and best-at-all sports in general, which would have been really special.” Last month’s NHL/NHLPA Players Media Tour ahead of the 2022-23 season.

“They missed out on a huge, big part of the international game.”

The league and the NHL Players Association are moving towards holding the World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, but nothing is officially on hold, almost 16 months from the expected start date.

The owner was never fascinated by the Olympics

Owners have never been enamored with the Olympics for a number of reasons, including the need to pause the schedule, but an event hosted by the NHL has been more enjoyable.

If the World Cup takes place in 2024, it will be hockey’s first best-at-best tournament, as the event was last held in 2016.

McDavid, however, did not get the chance to play for Canada six years ago as a member of the under-23 team North America, with Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Austin Matthews and US Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel in it. boat.

“Whether it’s representing your country or the opportunity to play against the best in the world, everyone wants to do it,” said Eichel, who agreed with McDavid’s assessment of lost opportunities. “It’s something the fans want to see. I think it’s great for our sport. We’re trying to develop hockey globally, and the Olympics is the biggest thing in the world for a month .

“The World Cup was also a great occasion.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last month the league was moving “at full speed” on the World Cup, but added that there are challenges as well.

“Working through all those traps is what we need,” he said. “Whether it is with the international hockey communities, which has been a little more difficult than we anticipated, but also out in the market in terms of potential broadcast partners and marketing sponsors.

“We have great control over what we want the competition to look like, subject to a Russian question.”

big question

This question remains a big one.

Russian teams have been banned from participating in international games since the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The NHL has not banned players from Russia, but has suspended all trade relations with the country.

Daly, who reiterated that there would be no Team North America or Team Europe – the latter included players from smaller hockey nations in 2016 – should the 2024 edition go ahead, said the World Cup could be subtracted from the Russian entry.

“Is it a good tournament without Russia? Probably not,” Daly said. “I think that’s what you’re finding in some other international competitions. But by the same token, the actions and decisions were made for a reason.

“We certainly share the spirit of that argument.”

Tampa Bay Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevsky hopes there will be a Russian team if the World Cup happens once.

“You’ve always wanted to represent your country and make your Russian fans happy,” said the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top netminder. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. It’s complicated now.

“We have a lot of talented young hockey players from Russia. It would be really interesting to play together.”

The generational links and threads running through the rosters of many countries in the 2024 World Cup will be interesting.

McDavid and the Colorado Avalanche stars Nathan McKinnon and Kale Makar have never played in a best-at-best tournament with 35-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Meanwhile, Matthews and Eichel have been denied the opportunity to receive a pass from Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, 33, in front of a global audience.

“There’s a great mix of young and old, people who have been there before and who are new, young and exciting,” McDavid said.

“It’s a great mix of talent.”

The NHL has committed to the 2026 Olympics in Italy, but it will be too late for some of the current generation.

A two-time Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP, McDavid pointed to many of hockey’s iconic moments to come as a result of international play – from Paul Henderson’s goal to Crosby’s goal of securing the 1972 summit series against the Soviet Union. For the winner who captured the gold in 2010. Olympics in Vancouver.

“That only comes from playing the best-of-best hockey on the biggest stage,” McDavid said.

“We are kind of missed on the global stage.”

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