Henderson, Nevada—If a World Cup of Hockey materializes in the near future, it won’t be a traditional international tournament like the Olympics.
The National Hockey League (NHL) and NHL Players’ Association are still planning to host a World Cup in February 2025, though the sides have scaled back what they think they can do given the timeframe and uncertainty regarding Russian players. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wouldn’t reveal specific ideas being considered other than to say it won’t be a “typical” World Cup of eight national teams playing over the course of 16 days.
“We’re focused on an alternative type of tournament that leverages kind of the unique internationality of our sport,” Daly said Tuesday at the NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour. “And so that’s the process we’re in now working with the Players’ Association really to design something that we can plug into February of ’25.”
The initial hope was to stage the World Cup in 2024, but Russia’s war in Ukraine and some federations’ objections to Russian players taking part were among the issues that scuttled that plan. The aim is still for 2025, which would come a year before the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina, Italy.
Daly said World Cup preparations are ongoing simultaneously with negotiations to send NHL players to the 2026 Olympics. The league and players agreed in the latest extension of the collective bargaining agreement to participate, but that’s pending an agreement with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation.
NHL players haven’t gone to the Olympics since 2014 in Sochi. While the plan was to participate in Beijing in 2022, pandemic schedule interruptions caused the league to pull out.
The same issues of who’s paying for insurance and travel costs that kept NHL players out of the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang remain. Daly said he’d like to have clarity on the situation by early 2024.
“We hope to get on kind of a regular rotating scenario where you’d have a World Cup in ’28, an Olympics in ‘30, a World Cup in ’32, Olympics in ’34,” Daly said.
Image credits: AP