Henrik Lundqvist is a supporter of the World Cup.
“I’m excited,” he told NHL.com in September. “I think it’s going to be a great tournament.”
Just don’t confuse his excitement for a belief that the World Cup could replace the Olympics. Because the Swedish netminding star doesn’t believe anything could do that.
“Being at the Olympics is just an amazing feeling to have, with all the other athletes there, and the energy that’s there,” Lundqvist told Reuters. “To see them in action, it’s so inspiring. I love it, it’s very pure. It’s all about the sport.”
Granted, it might be a stretch to call the Olympics “all about the sport.” Money is a big driver of the Olympic movement, make no mistake.
But the World Cup’s purity, for lack of a better word, has also come into question. With the inclusion of Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America, the co-production of the NHL and NHLPA is not truly best-on-best, country-versus-country. Neither, for that matter, is the World Championship, since many of the best players are busy with the NHL playoffs when that tournament is on.
As it stands, only the Olympics is that. And the NHL has yet to commit to participating in the next Winter Games, in 2018 in South Korea.
“We had a meeting with the IIHF in November or October,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this weekend, per the Pioneer Press. “They said we have about a year, give or take.”
A deal to send NHLers to Sochi in 2014 wasn’t reached until July of 2013, less than a year before those Games began.