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12 Nov, 2022 10:07

NHL postpones Hockey World Cup

The competition was originally planned for February 2024
NHL postpones Hockey World Cup

The 2024 World Cup of Hockey will be put off until February 2025, as confirmed by the NHL in North America and its players’ association, the NHLPA.

“Over the last year, the NHL and the NHLPA have been working on plans to conduct the next World Cup of Hockey, the premier international best-on-best hockey tournament, in February 2024,” the two parties said in a joint statement on Friday.

“Unfortunately, in the current environment it is not feasible to hold the World Cup of Hockey at that time.”

The tournament is held irregularly and has been enjoyed three times by hockey fans. The United States won the inaugural event in 1996, before Canada claimed top honors in 2004 and 2016.

The planned 2024 edition is postponed amid the backdrop of political issues such as Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, which resulted in Russian teams being banned from a number of international sporting competitions.

Federations such as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) heeded an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to ban Russia, and the NHL has been unable to confirm whether a Russian team will be able to participate in the World Cup of Hockey.

Despite the sanctions, the NHL allows a number of top Russian stars such as Alexander Ovechkin and Valeri Nichushkin to still play.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that Russians might be able to take part in the World Cup in September, saying: “Certainly, we’d like that and I think our Russian players would like that. So we would certainly like to accommodate them in some credible way,” as quoted by ESPN.

The tournament was initially scheduled to take place over a 17-day period in February 2024, and it wasn’t expected that there would be a Team Europe and Team North America taking part.

Instead, ten traditional national teams are tipped to play, with two countries eliminated from a qualification round as eight others compete for the title.

Countries such as Canada, the US, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and some form of the Russian team should feature in 2025. Other candidates to round out the pack include Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Norway.

A host for the World Cup of Hockey in 2025 is yet to be announced, after the US and Canada hosted in 1996, ahead of Toronto, Canada taking over solely in 2004 and 2016.