It seems like the decision is in the very distant future; after all, a lot can happen between now and 2014 (you know, like a *shudder* lockout).
Yet discussion about the pros and cons of the NHL resurrecting its World Cup format – maybe or maybe not to replace participation in the Olympic Games – is already heating up as the hockey world approaches the World Hockey Summit net week.
Whatever happened to the Canada Cup, and to its successor, the World Cup, which in 1996 crowned the United States as champions in the second most important victory in its history after the 1980 Miracle On Ice?
Both tournaments were, for a time, played every four years before the start of the NHL season and have featured some of the most intriguing hockey in history. But when the NHL decided to go to the Olympics in 1998, the World Cup essentially was sacrificed.
One of the main reasons the league is gung-ho on the one international event and not the other comes down to the key difference between the two tournaments.
The NHL runs the World Cup and takes in a big share of the profits.
With the Olympics, it doesn’t.
In some ways, the Olympic impact on the NHL is a cosmic “chicken or the egg” argument. On one hand, having the sport – and many of the league’s biggest stars – paraded out in a high-end, high-pressure tournament is a fantastic showcase of the game. That being said, merely point to Dominik Hasek’s groin injury in 2006 or the general schedule-halting inconvenience that comes with putting the season on hold for two weeks and then note that the Olympics tangible impact is pretty hard to measure to boot.
When you factor in those clashing sentiments, it’s difficult to know what the NHL’s best move would be. Personally, I think that the Olympic Games are worth the risk, even if going to Sochi will indeed involve a lot more inconvenience and difficulty than participating in the Vancouver Olympics.
Still, it’s far from a no-brainer, so I thought I’d ask you: should the NHL continue to participate in the Olympics? What about rejuvenating the World Cup? Maybe both or neither? Vote in the poll below.