Yesterday, there were reports of radical changes for the World Cup of Hockey — specifically, the inclusion of two teams not featuring players of the same nationality, but rather “all-star” type squads.
Today, the idea was with skepticism from players.
“I just read about it,” Preds goalie and Finnish international Pekka Rinne said. “The other guys representing their own country, you play for the crest in front of the jersey.
“I don’t know what to think of it.”
According to Sportsnet, the “big six” of international hockey — Canada, U.S., Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic — would be joined by one team of European all-stars (comprised of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Latvia, Germany and Slovenia, among others.)
Rounding out the eight-team field would be a different type of all-star conglomerate (per Yahoo, ideas floated include a Young Star team, or a North American “B” team of U.S. and Canadian players that didn’t make the cut.)
Nashville forward Olli Jokinen, who’s represented Finland internationally on a number of occasions, said it would be difficult not playing for his country.
“It would be hard to play for some kind of different team, but I guess at the same time, a lot of the small countries, they’re producing really good players,” he explained. “Players like that, a lot of time they don’t get a chance to play tournaments like that.”
There are logistical issues with nationality-based squads. Several of the smaller countries don’t have enough NHL players to field an entire roster (the World Cup is primarily a NHL and NHLPA initiative), and it’s unclear if skaters in European leagues would be able to participate in a tournament that occurs in the midst of their seasons.
That said, logistical issues don’t take away from the fact players are lukewarm to the idea of a Ryder Cup-style European squad, or one comprised of random stars.
“There’s more pride it in, for the players, when you’re representing your country,” Toronto forward and U.S. Olympian James van Riemsdyk said. “I think it’s fun when you have the different countries like you have every year in one of these tournaments there’s a big upset and that’s what makes it fun.
“I think it’s more fun when you have the countries (competing).”