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Talkin' World Cup of Hockey

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Welcome back hockey!
What? Hockey's back?

The World Cup of Hockey, an international eight-team tournament being held September 17th to October 1st at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, begins preliminary play this week, with three games scheduled for Thursday.

Nice! Why should I care?

Because hockey is back!

I did miss hockey, you got me there. Tell me more about this tournament…

The eight teams include Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Team North America (23-and-under players) and Team Europe (the rest of Europe).

The last NHL-sanctioned World Cup of Hockey was held in 2004 in seven venues throughout North America and Europe. Prior to that an inaugural World Cup of Hockey took place in 1996 across nine North Americans and European rinks.

Neat. How did Team Canada do in these tournaments?

In 1996, led by Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Theoren Fleury, Team Canada finished second to the United States in a best-of-three final. Eight years later in 2004, Team Canada beat Team Finland 3-2 in the gold medal game. Vincent Lecavalier was tournament MVP and he also made the all-star team, alongside countrymen Adam Foote and Martin Brodeur.

You had me at Gold. Could Team Canada capture Gold again this time around?

Indeed. Canada has a solid squad and early line combinations have Tyler Seguin with Jonathan Toews and Logan Couture, Sidney Crosby alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares were paired with Ryan Getzlaf, while Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux and Joe Thornton made up the final trio. The defence is made up of Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alex Pietrangelo, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brent Burns. Carey Price, Corey Crawford and Braden Holtby are Canada's three goaltenders.

Now that's a team. Which country will give them the most trouble?

Sweden. Ever heard of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson and/or Jacob Markstrom?

So Canadian Canucks fans will be cheering for both Team Canada and Team Sweden until they meet for Gold, at which time they must choose their country or their Canucks?

Bingo.

What about Team Europe? Don't they have a feisty forward and reliable defenceman?

Actually they do! Jannik Hansen and Luca Sbisa round out the Canucks taking part in the tournament and all six are in action today, Thursday, September 8th.

Wait - the tournament begins this week?

Each team plays three exhibition games and has a handful of practices to prepare for the tournament. One can never be too prepared when country pride, bragging rights and general glory is at stake.

Other than Canucks.com and @Canucks on social media, where can I get the latest news on the tournament and how Canucks players are performing?

WCH2016.com launches September 9th. It'll be the most comprehensive source of tournament news and information, other than the aforementioned Canucks.com and @Canucks.

Go Canada!

Go Canada, Sweden AND Team Europe!

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