North American ice hockey league the NHL has said it is committed to multiple editions of the World Cup of Hockey as the national team tournament prepares to make its return to the sport’s calendar later this year.
The World Cup and its predecessor, the Canada Cup, were held seven times from 1976 through to 2004. The last edition of the World Cup was staged in seven cities in North America and Europe, with the final in Toronto, Canada. However, this year all tournament games will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from September 17 to October 1. “We're committed to multiple tournaments on a regular schedule,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said at a press conference to promote the 2016 event. “Yes, we are committed for 2020.”
Donald Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), added: “The plan was to establish an ongoing event, brand and identity and go forward with it. The previous World Cups were great events in and of themselves, but they didn't have the staying power that doing it regularly provides.”
The first two editions of the World Cup in 1996 and 2004 comprised the top eight national teams. This format has been modified slightly with Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the USA being joined by a ‘Team Europe’ and ‘Team North American Youngstars’.
The NHL and NHLPA have said the World Cup’s return will be assessed with a view to potentially altering the format and hosting model for future editions. “We made a couple of decisions, for various reasons, that changed this tournament, compared to what we did in 2004 and 1996,” Daly said. “We obviously want to see how that works, what’s good and what’s bad. Obviously, the main thing is having all the games in Toronto. It's certainly a different approach than we took in 2004 and 1996. We'll see how that works out.”
Regarding the hosting format for 2020, Fehr added: “What my hope is, and what my personal expectation is, is this will be seen as a significant enough event and a beneficial enough event for cities to have a lot of interest. Exactly how you would go about ferreting out that interest, we have to work through.”