Rick Nash

PRAGUE -- Rick Nash, general manager of Canada’s men’s team for the 2024 IIHF World Championship here, said a strong showing from those auditioning to be part of Canada's teams at the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Milano Cortina Olympics has certainly helped a few causes, but also doesn't believe the status of players who declined invitations will be affected.

"I think if you didn't want to come and you said 'no,' I don't think that's really going to hurt your chances of being on the team," Nash told NHL.com. "Guys have different reasons for not coming. But I will say I think it can help you if you come here and prove to yourself and prove to the world you can play at this level.

"We've said it so many times ... the international game is so different. The ice size is different. The angles are different. The amount of time you have the puck is different. The opponents are different. The officiating is different. It's important for guys to come over and show what they can do over here.

"I don't think it's going to hurt guys that said no, but I think it can make a huge difference if you come over here and have success."

The inaugural 4 Nations Face-Off will be a best-on-best tournament between Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland from Feb. 12-20, 2025. Each country will play seven games in nine days in locations to be determined. NHL players will return to the Olympics in 2026 for the first time since the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Canada won gold.

The return of best-on-best competitions has changed the complexion of the World Championship, Nash said.

"I think we knew right from the start once those two tournaments got announced, a lot of people's mindsets changed," he said. "You think about other major sports around the world and they have these tournaments, best-on-best, it's incredible for fans and incredible for the growth of the sport. I get the feeling that it's great coming to that again."

Nash, in his third season as director of player development for the Columbus Blue Jackets after joining them as assistant to the GM in 2019, was named general manager of Canada’s men’s team for the 2024 IIHF World Championship on March 19.

He was hired by St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, who is the GM of Canada's men's team for the 2026 Milano Cortina Olympics and management lead for the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off, as well as IIHF World Championship tournaments.

Ryan Getzlaf, who spent 17 seasons in the NHL, all with the Anaheim Ducks, and is their all-time leader in games (1,157), assists (737) and points (1,019), was named to Canada's executive committee alongside Armstrong. Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will serve as Canada's GM for the NHL 4 Nations Face-Off on April 12, too.

The four have been working in collaboration for Canada at the World Championship.

Any eye-opening performances from the tournament have certainly hit the group's radar.

"If players have worked themselves into the conversation, that's going to be up to them," Nash said. "They're obviously here to keep tabs on the whole thing moving forward. We all want what's best for Canada. We meet daily and talk about players, talk about other teams, talk about ideas. It's pretty much an open-door policy between the four of us and that's kind of the dynamic that's been going on over the last couple of weeks.

Several players have opened eyes with their production during the tournament. Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozens (eight goals, two assists in nine games) and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (two goals, eight assists in eight games) are tied for the Canada scoring lead with 10 points. Los Angeles Kings forward Pierre-Luc Dubois (three goals, five assists in nine games); and Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard (five goals, three assists in nine games) each have eight points.

Canada will face Sweden in the bronze-medal game on Sunday following a 3-2 shootout loss to Switzerland on Saturday.

"Just speaking about our tournament, I think we've had a few guys that have definitely stepped up and had good tournaments so far," Nash said. "Now we're getting to the crunch time. This is when you want to see players step up."

Nash, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft by Columbus who had 805 points (437 goals, 368 assists) in 1,060 games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins from 2002-18, represented Canada at the Olympic Games three times as a player, including in 2006 (Torino), 2010 (Vancouver) and 2014 (Sochi).

The 39-year-old won gold twice, in 2010 and 2014. He also won gold with Canada at the 2007 World Championship, where he was the tournament's most valuable player, and silver in 2005 and 2008.

The thought of a best-on-best tournament still gets the juices flowing, he admitted.

"Oh no doubt," said Nash, who also won silver with Canada at the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championship. "It's a lot different watching from up top. You don't have complete control. All your control is front-loaded when you try to build the team. You're competitive but it's hard. You can't have a shift to change momentum or have a good hit or a big play or score a big goal.

"It's different, but it 1,000 percent gets the competitiveness going again."