TORONTO -- The NHL and the NHL Players' Association brought the 2016 World Cup of Hockey into focus Wednesday by putting on a grand show at Air Canada Centre that featured several of the best players in the world and plenty of information regarding the tournament.
The League and the NHLPA jointly announced plans and released information for the World Cup, including the groups, key dates and schedule, rules and regulations, and management teams for Team North America and Team Europe.
This will be the first World Cup of Hockey since 2004, when Canada won gold.
"We've been talking about this for years now," Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) said. "The League has been pushing for it, and the [Players' Association] has been talking about it. Having a break for 12 years, it's important to let people know that it's back and you need to set the tone by putting on a good product here. I think they've done a good job with that. I'm really excited about it and I think a lot of players are to get this opportunity to play in a big tournament."
The World Cup will run Sept. 17 through Oct. 1, 2016. All games will be played at Air Canada Centre and will be televised by ESPN in the United States, and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada. A select number of tickets for the event will go on sale to the public Thursday, Nov. 12 at Ticketmaster.ca. Click here to sign up for ticket information, announcements and special offers.
"You can't have it on a bigger stage than being in Toronto," said American defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the captain of the Rangers.
The format will feature eight teams separated into two groups for a preliminary round that will run Sept. 17-22.
The top two finishers in each group will advance to the semifinals, which will be played Sept. 24 and 25.
The winners meet in a best-of-three final, with games played Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct 1.
Group A will consist of Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team USA and Team Europe, which will be comprised of the top players from countries outside the four European countries already competing in the tournament (Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Russia).
German Ice Hockey Federation president Franz Reindl was named president/team leader for Team Europe. Former NHL player and Slovakia national team captain Miroslav Satan was named the general manager for Team Europe.
Former Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger was announced as Team Europe coach. Krueger was formerly the coach of the Switzerland national team for 15 international tournaments, including the Olympics three times. He also was a consultant for Canada's gold-medal winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"There was a really long list, especially also coaches from North America, NHL coaches and so on, but we like to have European flavor on the top management to create a team together with the famous players we have, and we like to create something special because we are not representing Europe, we're representing the rest of Europe, I would say," Reindl said. "We have to focus on getting a team together in a couple of days together, and Ralph Krueger is the guy who can do it. He's able to do it."
Group B features Team Russia, Team Finland, Team Sweden and Team North America, which will be comprised of the top North American players who will be 23 years old or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.
Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli and Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman were named co-managers of Team North America.
"It's something new, and when you look at the potential players on this team, it's exciting," Chiarelli said. "Normally, these players are hard to get in the normal course of hockey, so to go out and scout them and know they'll be a part of your team is exciting."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Team Europe and Team North America were created to ensure that as many NHL players as possible will participate in the tournament.
"Those two teams, they're more competitive than any other country team would have been for this event, so it will make the competition more competitive as well," Bettman said. "Otherwise, you would have had a country with maybe just a couple of NHL players. Now you have what are going to be two very strong teams highlighting more NHL players being included than any other way we could have done it."
The rosters will consist of 23 players featuring 20 skaters and three goalies. The first 16 players, including two goalies, must be named no later than March 1. The balance of the rosters must be announced no later than June 1.
All games will be played on an NHL-sized rink using NHL rules and NHL officials. Other competition features, including the anti-doping policy, supplementary discipline and medical protocols, will be coordinated jointly by the NHL and NHLPA in consultation with outside parties, such as the International Ice Hockey Federation, when necessary.
Plans for training camps and exhibition games prior to the World Cup will be announced in a relatively short period of time, Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said.
NHL training camps prior to the start of the 2016-17 season are expected to start on time, with the players competing in the World Cup joining their NHL teams once their teams are eliminated from the World Cup or once it is finished.
"If you look at who is going to be on these rosters likely, and everybody can do a fantasy draft and come up with who you're going to think, and you look how deep they are and how spectacular the players are and how much respect they have for one another and for the coaches and everybody else in the game, it's pretty hard to conclude anything except that this is going to be the best collection of hockey talent that has ever been around in this kind of a tournament," Fehr said. "Usually when that happens, you get the best hockey played."