World Cup of Hockey Opens Door To Future Hockey

Sep 8, 2016; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Team North America celebrates their win against Team Europe after the third period of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at Videotron Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2016; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Team North America celebrates their win against Team Europe after the third period of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game at Videotron Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

With the World Cup of Hockey underway, even the exhibition games should teach the NHL a thing or two about the sport, and hopefully, what fans want to see.

It has been an extremely long and hot summer.  Sure my golf game has gotten better with the number of times that I was able to play.  Aside from the need for cooler weather to return, I am need of real hockey – and thanks to the World Cup of Hockey, I am getting that fix.

Last night’s matchup wasn’t anything special.  I was able to watch some of the best young players put on an absolute clinic as Team North America shutout Team Europe.  As I was watching the game, several thoughts came to mind about the sport of hockey, the World Cup, and the NHL. It wasn’t special, but it was hockey.

The NHL is really good at gimmicks.

For starters, when it comes to international competition; there is a lot of pride to play for one’s home country.  When the teams were first announced, I thought long and hard about Team North America and Team Europe.  Then I stopped thinking about it, because, well, if you can get into the head of what Gary Bettman and company are thinking about, well that makes you a better man than I.

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There is nothing wrong with Team North America.   Love the jerseys, although I like the whites more than the blacks.  But it is an international tournament, should feature the best players in the world playing for their country.  Instead, I get an all-star team of the top prospects from two countries that share in an absolute heated rivalry.  Team USA vs. Team Canada.  Can you count how many great games those two countries have played in recent tournaments?

Throw your nation’s pride right out the window.  The greatest thing that hockey has in these sort of tournaments is the fact that an underdog team can knock out a great by playing sixty solid minutes.  I can see the headlines now:

Connor McDavid Favourite Son of Canada Scores Game-Winning Goal To Defeat Team Canada In World Cup.

Run that by me again? Oh yes, it could happen.

Don’t get me wrong; Team North America is stacked, and it isn’t just about the players.  These guys are the future of the NHL – they have something to prove.  Team Europe just kind of exists.  Sure by joining countries from teams outside the top hockey powers, you create a stronger team.

"If the World Cup had decided against the two so-called gimmick teams and went with the next-best countries, the playing field would not have been as strong.  Whether Germany and Slovakia or Denmark and Switzerland got in, they would be fodder for Canada and other powerhouses.  This makes it more competitive.  –Michael Traikos, National Post"

It has to be hard to unify what is, in essence, an All-Star team of players from a hodge-podge of countries. What are you playing for – the European Union? Can we have the hockey version of a Brexit to end the madness?

I am torn on this one.  Yes, it is true that some tournaments seem “fake” as group play just decides which four of the top six countries are going to play for what medal, while the others get participation certificates.

Reminds me of the little old lady from Mystery Alaska, when she doesn’t want the town to be embarrassed when the team gets killed by the New York Rangers.

But on the other hand – allowing other teams into the fray did give us that amazing goal celebration in Might Ducks 2.

The world needs more hockey.

I have been pleading, well hoping is probably a more accurate word, for the NHL to figure out how to bring me more hockey. I am not the only one that wants to see more hockey.

I have long since wondering why the NHL doesn’t do more with the various prospect tournaments held before training camps.  Maybe a summer league like the NBA. I got excited tonight to watch an exhibition match between two gimmick teams.  Not to steal a line from a classic, but if you play it, they will come.

"We’ve grown to a $4 billion business; the question now becomes, where does the next billion come from?” -John Collins,"

You’re going to get that next billion by giving us more hockey, not making what we have now more expensive.  Then again – the more the league makes, the more the players will want, and that could lead us to the inevitable…dun dun dun….

Do something to prevent another lockout.

The clock is ticking on another Gary Bettman lockout.  The current CBA is set to expire after the 2021-2022 season.  Fans of the World Cup of Hockey know that – well that’s not too many tournaments before that comes up.

If the NHL wants to be taken seriously and not lose more fans – as you figure out how to get the business to the next billion – you better also be figuring out a way to make it work, so the players are happy as well.  Both sides need to mutually get together to prevent another shortened season, or worse, the possibility of a lost season.

Next: 5 Bold World Cup Predictions

This is staring the NHL right in the face.  You want to grow your sport, the World Cup of Hockey is showing you how.  Give the players and the fans what they want, more hockey. Oh, and don’t think we didn’t notice how excited Quebec City was for NHL caliber hockey.