With the NHL and NHLPA looking to increase revenues for all, it was decided to bring back the World Cup Hockey. The tournament will run from September 17th to October 1st, 2016. The World Cup will be taking place in Toronto, Canada at the Air Canada Centre. Unlike the 2015 WJHC, which shared the event between Toronto and Montreal.
The tournament will be comprised of 8 teams:
1. Team Canada:
Recently named head coach Mike Babcock will be responsible to once again try and bring gold home
to Canada. It is too ealy to know who will crack this lineup as Canada has an abundance of talent, but there are a couple of locks who you can guarantee will be wearing the red maple leaf at the tournament. Carey Price will be the goaltender leading the charge. Since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Price has taken his game to another level and has looked unstoppable. Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are other locks to play for Canada. These two are Canada’s leaders and the only question is who will wear the “C”? Canada has an abundance of talent and there is no doubt that anything less than gold will be seen as a failure.
The Czech Republic has yet to name a coach for the club. The one thing we do know is that we can expect 44 year old, Jaromir Jagr to be leading the club. His international hockey experience dates back to 1990, where he helped Czechoslovakia win a bronze medal at the age of 18.
3. Team Europe:
Team Europe is a novelty to this tournament that has already been scrutinized by the media. This team will be comprised of European players who do not belong to one of the other European countries at the tournament. There is no shortage of talent for this team. We can expect to see Slovenian native, Anze Kopitar lead this team, alongside Switzerland native Roman Josi. If those two don’t make you think that the team will compete, add a three time cup winner Marian Hossa to the mix. Former NHL coach Ralph Krueger will be behind the bench for Team Europe.
4. Team North America (Under 23 young guns):
Team North America is the second novelty team to this tournament that has already been scrutinized by the media. This team will be comprised of North American (Canada and USA born players) 23 years or younger when the tournament begins. Leading the charge for Team North America are none other than the Edmonton Oiler’s Peter Chiarelli
(GM) and Todd McLellan (coach). Expected to make the team from their club are franchise superstar Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Other budding superstars expected to make the roster are Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, Buffalo Sabre’s Jack Eichel and Calgary Flame’s Sean Monahan.
The bench boss for team Finland will be Lauri Marjamäki. Between the pipes, Finland will have Pekka Rinne leading the charge and Tuukka Rask as his likely backup. With these two as your netminders, you will have a competitive club.
Head coach for Team Russia will be Oleg Znarok. If this team were three months ago, there would be no question that Sergei Bobrovsky would be the starting goalie for Russia. However, he is currently having a terrible start to the season with a 4-8-0 record and a 3.61GAA and .884 SV%. If he is not able to turn it around, the position will be up for the taking. Like always, Team Russia will be loaded with top end forwards; Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin (just became the highest scoring Russian born player in NHL history) and Ilya Kovalchuk to name a few. Expect them to be hungry for gold as they were eliminated in the Quarter Finals at the Sochi Winter Olympics on home soil.
Rikard Grönborg will be the head coach for Team Sweden. Sweden will be looking for redemption as they lost to Team Canada in the gold medal game at the 2014 winter Olympics. We should expect a hungry group of guys who will be competing for gold. Included in this mix will be goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, Nicklas Backstrom (missed the gold medal game because of a positive drug test) and Henrik Zetterberg. Expect Sweden to be one the best teams in the tournament.
Mr. Excitement, John Tortorella will be leading Team USA behind the bench. Like Team Canada, USA has a large selection of players to choose from in all positions. Will it be Jonathan Quick or Ben Bishop in nets? There is an abundance of defenceman for the team to choose from; Ryan Suter, Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan McDonagh just to name a few. Will Max Pacioretty get more ice time than the Olympics? He is silent but deadly. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, there is only one player to have more even strength goals than Max, that is Steven Stamkos. I expect the newly appointed Montreal Canadiens captain to have a much more prominent role with the Team USA at this tournament. Combine that with the likes of Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel and you will see how difficult it will be to stop the Americans at this tournament.
Team North America and Team Europe:
Mainstream media has been criticizing these two teams long before the announcement even came about that these teams were officially participating in the tournament. I tried to listen to their points and understand why they are so upset with these two teams, but it does not add up.
The one comment we keep hearing is that the players of these countries would rather wear their home country’s crest and will not care to be on a blended country team. I have yet to hear one player complain in public. I believe they would rather play on either of those two teams than not play in the tournament. Why wouldn’t they be excited? Why not want to have a good shot at taking down the top hockey countries in the world.
We also constantly hear from the media that Team North America is a horrible idea. Why? Once again, the players would much rather play for Team Canada or Team USA. That may be true, however there would be a slim chance that most of those players would even be able to crack the lineup of those teams. Personally, I like the young guns team. I believe they will be the most exciting team to watch in the tournament. They have more than enough talent upfront to compete with any other team in the tournament and a pretty solid back end, led by last years rookie of the year Aaron Ekblad and Nashville Predator’s Seth Jones.
Only time will tell if these experiments will work. The media needs to stop criticizing before the puck has even been dropped and give it a chance.
If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the event:
Tickets go on sale 10:00am ET on Thursday, November 12, 2015
Spark Sports NHL Analyst