COLUMBUS – The World Cup of Hockey is back on the international hockey calendar, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Saturday afternoon during a press conference at Nationwide Arena.
The next edition will take place in September 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, with more than 150 NHL players expected to take part.
The two-week tournament will feature eight teams comprised of the world's best hockey players competing in a best-on-best international hockey championship. The World Cup of Hockey is a joint effort of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and the NHL, in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
"We are thrilled to partner with the NHLPA in planning and producing what we expect will be the world's best international hockey tournament," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will highlight not only our global reach, but also the skill and passion of the world's best athletes. We would like to thank our international partners - the IIHF and their members - for their cooperation in helping to make this event a reality.
"We expect the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to be the most competitive tournament of its kind, with the world's top players and best athletes," said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director. "We look forward to working with the NHL, and the IIHF and its Federations on this extraordinary event. We expect that this is the initial step in a series of events that will elevate our game over the next few years, including a World Cup in 2020."
The last World Cup of Hockey was played in 2004, with the final also in Toronto. Canada defeated Finland in the championship game. The only other World Cup of Hockey was in 1996. The United States upset Canada in a three-game final, winning the final two games in Montreal after dropping the opening game at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The 2016 tournament will feature national teams from six countries: Canada, the reigning Olympic champion, the United States, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and Finland. The other two teams will be new to the competition: Team Europe and Team North American Youngstars.
Team Europe will feature players from across Europe outside of the four European national teams already in the tournament. Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark and Germany will likely provide the majority of the players on the roster, but others will likely come from countries with developing national team programs, but established NHL stars, like Slovenia (Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings) and Norway (Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers).
The players for Team North American Youngstars will be selected from a pool of the best young hockey players from Canada and the United States. Those players age 23 and under will be available for selection exclusively by Team North American Youngstars.
Each of the eight teams will feature 23 players, 20 skaters and three goalies. The teams will be split into two groups and play a round-robin competition before moving on to a one-game semifinal round. The final round will be a best-of-three format between the two semifinal winners. Each national association will select its own team and must announce at least 16 members of its roster, including at least two goalies, no later than March 1, 2016, with the balance of each team's roster to be announced no later than June 1, 2016.
The NHL and NHLPA will jointly name each of the management teams for Team Europe and Team North American Youngstars. Those management teams will select the rosters for those teams.
The tournament be played on NHL-sized rinks using NHL rules and officiated by NHL officials.
It is anticipated that the initial portion of training camp for each team participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will begin Sunday, September 4. The training camps will be conducted in the location of each team’s choosing, with each team being permitted to host at least one exhibition game at a site of its choice. During the final days of preparation leading up to the opening of the tournament, the teams will be brought together in a more central North American location for a final pre-tournament exhibition game.