We know it’s not all that well known or, ahem, respected by most North American hockey fans, but the IIHF is changing the format of their annual World Championships. The old format, which will be used for the last time in 2011 in Slovakia, had four groups of four teams play a round-robin style within their group with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinals. The new change will make much more sense.
The new championship format will have the 16 teams playing in two preliminary round groups with eight teams in each, using the IIHF World Ranking for seeding. This means that each team will play seven preliminary round games against beforehand known opposition.
The top four teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the quarterfinals. The teams who finished last in each group will be relegated to Division I. Teams placed 5-8 will have no more games.
The new format sees the number of games increase from 56 to 64. Under the current format it takes nine games to become world champion. The new format will call for the two top teams to play ten games.
With the number of games being played increasing, the number of players you can have on your roster will also be increasing as well, from 22 to 25. What this means for the likes of Team USA is even more opportunities for players who maxed out their careers in college or who play overseas to get a chance to represent their country. After all, taking a look at the team the United States put on the ice in Germany in the 2010 World Championships, unless USA Hockey starts taking the yearly international competition more seriously, the roster could get even uglier.
As for the format, it just makes more sense and it opens things up a bit more for the more talented countries to get some breathing room heading into the quarterfinals. It also gives upstart countries more opportunities to try and make a name for themselves by knocking off the Goliaths of the hockey world.