The World Cup of Hockey is getting ready to make its debut after a 12-year hiatus. The eight-team tournament schedule will begin on September 17 and continue until October 1, just before the start of the regular season of the National Hockey League. All games will take place in Toronto.
The two-week hockey championship tournament will feature more than 150 NHL players. The countries and regions represented in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be Team USA, Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Sweden, Team Russia, Team Europe, and Team North America. Team Europe will feature players from countries other than those represented from that continent, and Team North America will feature a roster of players under 23-years-old.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) September 8, 2016
The eight World Cup hockey teams will be split into two groups. The top two teams from each group will advance to semi-final elimination games. The tournament finals will be a best-of-three series format, according to NHL.com.
There will be some very familiar names representing different teams in the World Cup. Some of the stars include Sydney Crosby for Canada, Patrick Kane will represent the United States, Alex Ovechkin from Russia, and Nicklas Backstrom with Sweden, among others.
There are a few potential contenders for the World Cup of Hockey title, reports CTV News. Going into the hockey tournament, Canada is the likely favorite to win it all. They are the gold medal winners from the last Olympics. Canada arguably has the deepest and most talented roster heading into the World Cup. They have a lethal combination of speed, size, and skill.
Sweden will pose a threat to Canada’s hockey supremacy with a formidable defense and quality goaltending. The Swedes can also muster some offense when needed.
The United States may have the best goaltending in the World Cup. They will need to produce some more offense if they hope to contend.
Russia’s roster is full of talented skaters. However, they will need to work as a cohesive team to have a chance to make it past their group.
Finland is usually competitive in world hockey tournaments. The Finns have a promising young team but may not have the necessary experience to win it all.
Team North America may be the cinderella club to watch in the World Cup of Hockey. They will be an exciting and talented young team to watch. However, their lack of experience, especially in goal and on defense, may hinder their chances at going all the way in the competition.
The Czech Republic has a young roster that will be too thin on talent to have a shot. Team Europe will feature an older lineup, but also won’t have enough overall talent to progress against the stiff competition.
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) September 8, 2016
The World Cup of Hockey is an idea that was recreated by the National Hockey League. Decades ago, the tournament started as the Canada Cup but later morphed into the World Cup. Since 1998, NHL players have been participating in the Winter Olympics held every four years. The World Cup of Hockey took a back seat to that premier event. Currently, the NHL, led by commissioner Gary Bettman, is contemplating whether to continue sending their best athletes to the Olympics. However, Bettman has remarked that the return of the World Cup does not necessarily mean the end of further NHL Olympic participation.
There has been some criticism at interrupting the National Hockey League regular season for three weeks every four years to play at the Olympics. There is also concern over potential injuries to elite players during that event. Of course, players can also be injured during World Cup games. But the World Cup of Hockey is a money-making event backed by the NHL, while the International Olympic Committee is the main financial beneficiary of the Olympic hockey tournament. The next Winter Games are scheduled for 2018 in South Korea.
[Photo by Petr David Josek/AP Images]