Sources: NHL aims for 4-nation tourney in 2025

1 week ago 21
  • Greg Wyshynski, ESPNNov 20, 2023, 05:24 PM ET


      Greg Wyshynski is ESPN's elder NHL writer.

The NHL's planetary hockey tourney scheduled for Feb. 2025 volition beryllium scaled backmost to conscionable 4 nationalist teams, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The projected lawsuit would diagnostic nationalist teams from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Finland.

The NHL and NHLPA person been attempting to signifier the adjacent World Cup of Hockey tourney since it was revived successful 2016 arsenic a preseason lawsuit successful Toronto. Sources said that owed to its constricted scope the 2025 lawsuit would beryllium called thing different than the World Cup of Hockey, and that the ngo for some the NHL and the NHLPA was to simply signifier immoderate benignant of planetary tourney up of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

"We're hopeful to person an planetary tourney successful February 2025," said NHL lawman commissioner Bill Daly successful Sweden past week. "We're moving with the Players' Association connected the conception of that. Then, aft that, we would similar to beryllium successful a regular rotation betwixt the Olympics and the World Cup each different year. That evidently involves america having an statement to spell to Milan [in 2026], and that is inactive a enactment successful progress."

The adjacent effort astatine a World Cup of Hockey is expected successful 2028, arsenic the NHL envisions having a World Cup each 4 years and successful betwixt Winter Olympic tournaments.

"I deliberation astatine minimum, determination are 3 factors that person impacted our quality to nail thing down," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said past week successful Sweden. "One was COVID. Two was the alteration successful enforcement directors successful the Players Association. And 3 is the governmental clime successful the satellite successful presumption of the mode immoderate counties are interacting with others."

In particular, the NHL has struggled with however to incorporated Russian-born players into an planetary tournament, fixed the hockey world's backlash against Russia's penetration of Ukraine. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has banned Russia and Belarus from competing successful tournaments done 2024. The NHL ended each concern relations successful Russia -- including its Russian-language website, media and sponsorship deals -- aft the Feb. 2022 invasion.

The NHL had talked astir Russian players competing nether a neutral sanction and flag, alternatively than straight representing their nation, successful the adjacent World Cup of Hockey. But Daly said successful 2022 that different participating countries did not presumption that arsenic satisfactory and were advocating for nary Russian subordinate information astatine all.

The existent conception for the 2025 tourney would not see immoderate Russian players. It would lone see 4 nations. One root said determination isn't capable clip to program the logistics for a larger tournament.

The projected format would person the U.S. and Canada playing 2 games successful North America, portion Sweden and Finland would play 2 games successful either of those 2 nations. The winners of those matchups, either by points oregon aggregate goals, would look the second-best squad from the different matchup -- astir apt successful North America. The winners of those "semifinals" would past conscionable for the tourney championship, leaving unfastened the anticipation that the U.S. and Canada could conscionable successful that last game.

The tourney would beryllium completed successful astir a week. The NHL would intermission games during the event. The tourney format and the determination of games has yet to beryllium finalized. There is simply a accidental the full tourney could beryllium held successful 1 location.

The NHL hasn't participated successful a "best connected best" nationalist squad tourney since the 2014 Winter Olympics successful Sochi.

The revival of the World Cup successful 2016 was criticized by immoderate for having 2 teams that were invented for that event: Team North America, which showcased under-23 stars from the U.S. and Canada; and Team Europe, which featured players whose nationalist teams weren't progressive successful the tournament. Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. rounded retired the field.

NHL players person eagerly awaited the adjacent "best connected best" tournament. Stars similar Connor McDavid, Cale Makar, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and Jack Hughes person yet to correspond their countries successful a "best connected best" planetary tournament.

"It would mean everything to me," said McDavid. "I consciousness similar guys my property haven't had the accidental to play hockey astatine the biggest stage. The Olympics, World Cup oregon immoderate benignant of 'best connected best.'"

Given the 2025 tournament's constricted format, that "best connected best" contention volition person to wait. Along with the league's Russian stars, players similar David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Leon Draisaitl (Germany), Mo Seider (Germany), Kevin Fiala (Switzerland) and Roman Josi (Switzerland) wouldn't beryllium capable to vie successful the showcase tourney with their nationalist teams, either.

"Theoretically, that's important. As a applicable matter, that whitethorn not beryllium realistic," said Bettman of a 2025 "best connected best" tournament. "We mightiness get determination implicit time. We whitethorn person to germinate into a much inclusive World Cup. It's a enactment successful progress."

Sportsnet archetypal reported astir the imaginable tournament's format.