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Global Series

World Cup of Hockey could return, NHL says

League, Players Association see value in trying to bring tournament back

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PRAGUE -- The NHL and the NHL Players' Association want to bring back the World Cup of Hockey, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday.

"We're totally, 100 percent aligned with the Players' Association on the value of that property, to growing the game and promoting the game and creating a competitive, entertaining tournament," Deputy Commissioner Daly said before the Philadelphia Flyers played the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2019 NHL Global Series at O2 Arena. "The form that that takes and the time that that takes and the details, it's always tough to work out the details."

With the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement running through Sept. 15, 2022, Deputy Commissioner Daly said he believes there is an opportunity to craft an international calendar that would include a World Cup, a multination tournament that was last played in 2016 in Toronto.

"It's all tied into a broader conversation we need to have with the Players' Association on the international calendar," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "I've talked in recent days about our ongoing discussions with the Players' Association on a variety of collective bargaining matters. One of them has been the international calendar and kind of developing one, particularly now that we have some runway with at least three years, and hopefully when we get to the end of this process potentially longer, maybe six or seven years, to build out an international calendar. And World Cup would be part of that conversation."

The World Cup debuted in 1996 and the United States won the best-of-3 final against Canada. In 2004, Canada won a one-game championship. In 2016, Canada won again.

Deputy Commissioner Daly also spoke about several other international hockey issues, including the future of the Global Series and the NHL's participation in upcoming Olympic tournaments.

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The 2019 Global Series finishes with two games in Stockholm, Sweden, between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres next month. Deputy Commissioner Daly said at that time he hopes to have formal plans for the 2020 NHL Global Series, which will likely feature preseason games in Europe as well as regular-season play.

This month, the Blackhawks played a preseason game in Berlin, Germany, and the Flyers played one in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Deputy Commissioner Daly did not offer details on what countries are under consideration to serve as hosts in 2020 but admitted Russia could be considered.

"I think it's been speculated that, and would be rightly speculated, that we would be willing to explore putting a game in Russia, with some of our Russian stars," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "There's a long way between here and there. So I'm not announcing Russian games, but certainly that's a market that we think would be interesting if we had the support of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the [Kontinental Hockey League] in doing it. That's something we'd consider."

Several of the League's top players were born in Russia, including Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning.

Russia is not the only new market being considered, he said.

"We talked about Bratislava and Slovakia as being one potential, whether regular-season games in Switzerland make sense, whether Austria might present an opportunity," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "Those are all things that we examine regularly."

Deputy Commissioner Daly said there has been no further talks regarding the participation of NHL players in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

The NHL did not send its players to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics after taking part in each of the five prior tournaments, beginning in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. It is a conversation that will continue during meetings with the NHLPA about formulating a codified international calendar.

"I'll say, because I think I need to say, from the NHL owners' perspective, Olympic participation is not seen as something that's either essential or even useful to our business. It's highly disruptive to our season, puts our players in jeopardy of injury with no financial benefit to the NHL or the clubs," he said. "So it's not something that in a neutral environment is anything we would elect to do. Having said that, we also understand how important it is to our players. We've heard it loud and clear that if the conditions are right, they would like to participate, and we certainly respect their view in that regard. So I'm not ruling it out. But I think it's part of a broader discussions not only with the Players' Association, but with the [International Olympic Committee] as well."

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