The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) will meet with the National Hockey League (NHL) next month to discuss the proposed World Cup of Hockey, amid reports that dates and participating teams have already been set for the return of the tournament.
NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) executive director Donald Fehr is said to have unveiled World Cup dates and participants to the IIHF Congress at its recent meeting in Tenerife, Spain. A calendar slot for the World Cup was said to have been laid out for September 15 to October 1 in 2016, with Canada, the USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland lined up as six of the eight participating teams.
“At this time we cannot give a public comment on the status of the World Cup,” IIHF communications manager Adam Steiss told NBC Sports’ ProHockey Talk website. “The IIHF will be meeting with the NHL next month to discuss the tournament, but so far nothing has been agreed upon other than the fact that if a tournament was to take place it would do so likely during the dates mentioned at the IIHF Congress.”
The latest development comes after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in June said the league and the NHLPA were closing in on a deal to resurrect the World Cup. Canadian broadcaster Sportsnet added that Toronto is expected to be the host due to the impact the World Cup would have in ice hockey’s biggest market.
The last edition of the World Cup of Hockey was held in 2004 and staged in seven cities in North America and Europe, with the final in Toronto. Sportsnet added that future editions post-2016 would be opened up to cities across the world in a bidding process.
Jonathan Weatherdon, the NHLPA’s director of communications, said there is “no news to announce at this time” regarding the proposed 2016 tournament, but added “the PA and the league have been quite vocal that the sides would like to jointly conduct another World Cup of Hockey and talks are actively occurring with the NHL on this front.”
A World Cup would prove lucrative for the NHL and the players’ union, and crucially would not require a three-week league shutdown in the middle of a season, as the Olympic Games do.