June 23, 2019

Pucks On The 'Net: World Yawn of Hockey

The big headline out of the NHL this day is that the NHL and NHLPA are going to reboot the World Cup of Hockey.



Let's review. There was this fantastic tournament called the Canada Cup from 1976 to 1991. Essentially it was a true world championship between the Soviets and the Canadians, who, unlike at the Olympics and Worlds, had their absolute best roster available. It was fantastic hockey, featuring some of the greatest moments in international hockey history.

Gary Bettman took over the tournament and rebranded it as the World Cup of Hockey in 1996. That's okay. By this time much of the rest of the world had caught up, with the Americans, Swedes, Czechs, Slovaks and Finns all challenging for top bidding. Bettman's dream scenario played out, with the Americans topping the Canadians for the inaugural championship. The importance of that win on the now-fully-blossoming American hockey scene can not be overlooked.

And then the NHL screwed it all up, time and time again. Lets' see. They didn't host another tournament until 2004. Canada won that one, but really no one much cared about that tournament. It finished on the eve of the NHL lockout announcement that would cost everyone the 2004-05 NHL season.

And then they didn't get around to having another tournament until 2016. It was kind of a gimmicky tourney with teams featuring under 23 North American stars and a team called Europe, comprising all the various nations that weren't big enough to compete on their own. Nonetheless, the tournament had a couple memorable highlights, but it paled in comparison to the Olympics. It was not even close!

And then NHL has never announced any plans to hold it again.

This is in the news again as the NHL and NHLPA are discussing the international calendar as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement dialogue. It's a pawn in a much bigger game of labour negotiations. The PA wants to go the Olympics, the League does not. They'd rather host their own tournament to recoup costs.

Today's headline really did not suggest what the plan is for the future of the World Cup of Hockey, because there is no plan. And they've destroyed whatever shine this tournament once held. No one cares any more. It's a cash grab held out of convenience.

It's time to let it die.

No comments: