World Cup of Hockey

Rebooting World Cup of Hockey to be part of NHL labor talks

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — With labor talks having already begun on an informal basis, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union chief Don Fehr are in favor of rebooting the World Cup of Hockey tournament and holding it every four years.

The stumbling block to laying out a long-term calendar of international competition, however, revolves around the hot-button topic of the NHL competing at the Winter Olympics after skipping out on South Korea last year.

”One of the things I hope we will have is an agreement to establish the long-term schedule for international events which would include World Cups of Hockey,” said Fehr, stressing the plural ”Cups” during an interview with The Associated Press at the league’s draft festivities in Vancouver, British Columbia, this past weekend. ”That’s a stand-alone event. It should not be seen as competing with or replacing the Olympics. It can be done.”

Bettman is on board when it comes to the World Cup.

”We think that’s a great event and it’s something we’ve been trying to work out for more than two years,” he said. ”We’re all in favor of setting an international calendar, and it takes two to tango, so to speak.”

There’s a caveat, of course, and the reason why the two sides aren’t tangoing just yet.

”We think the World Cup of Hockey can be a wonderful event, particularly if we don’t go to the Olympics,” Bettman said.

Though resolving a way to reduce the percentage of players’ salaries being held back annually in an escrow fund is the NHL Players’ Association’s most pressing concern with the collective bargaining agreement, international competition is also on the list.

And that’s where the World Cup – revived in 2016 – and Olympic Games participation will play a role once formal negotiations begin this summer leading up to September deadlines in which either side can choose to opt out and terminate the current CBA by the fall of 2020. The owners have until Sept. 1 and players on Sept. 15 to reach their decisions and set the clock ticking toward another potential work stoppage.

”There have been a series of discussions. I don’t think I would call them formal negotiations yet,” Fehr said. ”And if your next question’s going to be how it’s going to end up, I’m going to tell you, ask me in the middle of August because I don’t know yet.”

Players are unhappy with the league’s decision to skip the most recent Winter Games after having participated in the previous five. Shutting down the regular season for two weeks is an issue for owners, as was the time difference regarding South Korea, with games being played in the early morning for North American audiences.

The union sides with the league involving other issues regarding Olympic participation such as players’ medical insurance coverage and marketing rights.

None of those apply when it comes to the World Cup because it’s jointly controlled by the league and union, with both sides splitting the revenue.

The World Cup’s return was greeted with a tremendous amount of fanfare when Bettman and Fehr shared the podium at the 2015 all-star game festivities in Columbus, Ohio, to announce the eight-team event would be held in Toronto the following year.

There was even discussion – but no resolution – of having it held every four years. The World Cup was previously played in 1996 and 2004, and succeeded the Canada Cup, which was held five times from 1976-91.

Speaking only for himself and not the union, Fehr said he would prefer the NHL compete at the Olympics and then have the World Cup held every four years – with two years separating the events.

”If it was up to me, I’d do it all sooner rather than later, but we’ll see,” Fehr said. ”The question is, can we get the agreement on all the intervening pieces.”

Fehr noted the union and NHL can’t resolve the Olympic participation question alone in labor talks because outstanding issues must also be negotiated with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.

Bettman doesn’t see why the two sides can’t reach a deal on the World Cup, given they’re both in favor.

”Yes, so it should get done,” Bettman said. ”We’re going to ultimately come together and figure out something that everybody’s comfortable with.”

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ralph Krueger back in NHL as Sabres head coach

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Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill has made his decision and has chosen Ralph Krueger to be the team’s next head coach.

“As we sat down with Ralph, we liked what he has from an NHL background, the fact he worked with Carolina as a consultant for five or six years while he was head coach with Team Switzerland,” Botterill said Wednesday morning. “We liked the fact he was on the bench for three years in Edmonton, but we also put a lot of stock into his experience at the World Championships and the World Cup at the Olympics. Those are high-pressure situations where you have to make adjustments and you have to make quick decisions and he got results in those situations. That was impressive from our standpoint.

“When we did the follow up from talking with different players who had worked under Ralph they felt he was a very good communicator with them. That ability to get the most out of a group and communicate with a group we felt was a very good fit for our situation in Buffalo.”

Botterill reportedly had a thorough search for Phil Housley’s replacement and settled on Krueger, who was last behind a bench guiding Team Europe to a runner-up finish at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Jacques Martin and Dave Tippett were reportedly among the finalists for the job.

Since 2014, the 59-year-old Kruger had been chairman of English Premier League side Southampton F.C. It was announced last month that his contract would not be extended.

Krueger’s last presence in the NHL was as head coach with the Edmonton Oilers during the lockout-shortened 2013 season. He was fired — over Skype — after a 19-22-7 record, three years after he was brought into the organization as an associate coach.

Months after his surprising success at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Krueger’s name entered the head coaching rumor mill and remained whenever a new job opened up. He told Pro Soccer Talk in May 2017 that he had turned down two NHL jobs, citing his happiness with his role at Southampton.

Speaking with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun in April, Krueger spoke about the experience he gained in the role as chairman, something he could certainly bring to his new job with the Sabres.

“Now I’ve had the opportunity to be that person who creates a culture where you try to have it that everybody can really find their potential and find out what they’re made of,” Krueger said. “So my evolution has been neat that way. Now six years into this, if someone is asking me about the NHL, your brain goes to a similar role.’”

Krueger, who will be the Sabres’ fifth coach since 2013, has plenty of work ahead of him in turning around the franchise’s fortunes. Buffalo finished with the fifth-worst record in the NHL in 2018-19 and won 16 of their final 57 games after a 10-game winning streak earlier in the season gave hope that The Queen City would see playoff hockey again.

There are good pieces in Rasmus Dahlin, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and possibly Jeff Skinner, should he re-sign, to build around, and Botterill will add another with the No. 7 overall selection in next month’s entry draft.

MORE: Who should coach Ducks, Oilers, Senators?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL, NHLPA agree to no World Cup in 2020

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The World Cup of Hockey will not happen in 2020, but that doesn’t mean the popular tournament is dead in the water.

That is the message from both the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association late Wednesday.

Both entities released statements stating each party’s agreement that a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 would be unrealistic to schedule.

“The players are focused on finding the proper time to schedule the World Cup of Hockey within the context of an overall international hockey calendar,” a statement from the NHLPA read. “While we and the league have discussed the possibility of holding the next World Cup in September 2020, we jointly concluded that it is unrealistic to expect that preparations for the vent would be completed in that time.”

The NHL’s statement said that both parties held constructive meetings in Toronto on Wednesday.

The NHL’s statement echoed that of the NHLPA and say both parties “plan to continue their dialogue with the hope of being able to schedules the next World Cup event as part of a broader agreement, which would include a long-term international event calendar.”

[Related: NHL and NHLPA meet to discuss CBA, World Cup of Hockey]

Looming large over all of this is the current collective bargaining agreement, which is in place until 2022 unless one side elects to terminate it. That early window to opt out of the current arrangement opens on Sept. 1, 2019, for the NHL and Sept. 15, 2019, for the NHLPA.

The thought is that, if the World Cup in 2020 had gone forward, it would have signified some semblance of peace between the NHL and the NHLPA in terms of labor talks. The fear here, then, is that both sides aren’t close enough to an agreement.

The flip side is that the World Cup is a massive event that would take much planning and coordinating to get sorted in a year-and-a-half.

For now, it seems like both sides are looking in the same direction, together. That’s a positive sign as no one wants lost hockey in any form. Delaying the World Cup is worth it if harmony (and a new CBA) sans a work stoppage is the end result.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Next World Cup of Hockey could come in 2020

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The next World Cup of Hockey could come as early as the fall of 2020, but there’s a caveat.

According to The Athletic’s Corey Masisak, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the hope is for the next tournament to happen in two years time.

The catch?

It’s contingent on both the NHL and the NHLPA not terminating their existing collective bargaining agreement next year, which both sides have the right to do if they so choose.

If one side pulls out, Daly said the likelihood of a World Cup in 2020 would be, well, unlikely.

The last World Cup game in 2016 and was hosted in Toronto. Team Canada won the gold that year on a team comprised of players 24 years old and up.

Along with Canada were the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, a 24-and-up team from the USA, Team Europe, which was cobbled together from players from several smaller European countries including Germany, Denmark and Slovakia, and Team North America, which was comprised of players from both Canada and the USA that were 23 or under.

The tournament itself was tremendous, with a best-of-three final that pitted Canada against an unlikely foe in Team Europe. Canada went on to win the series 2-0, but the European team was the talk of the tournament thanks to Jaroslav Halak‘s heroics in goal and a team that just seem to gel at the right time.

With no Olympic hockey in Pyeongchang earlier this year, the World Cup provides the next-best platform for a best-on-best tournament involving competing nations.

A tournament in 2020 would be the fourth incarnation, after tournaments in 1996, 2004 and most recently in 2016 were held.

Canada has won the tournament twice and finished runner-up to the Americans in the inaugural tournament in 1996.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

What is the future of the World Cup of Hockey?

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Do you remember the 2004 World Cup of Hockey Final, when Canada beat Finland? Do you remember the ominous specter that hung over the entire tournament?

Do you recall what happened two days after the Canadians lifted that weird trophy? The 2004-05 lockout began, which resulted in a lost season.

If the World Cup is going to be on a regular four-year schedule the next one would be set to take place during a time when there could be Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions, which would not be ideal. The current NHL CBA runs through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season, but both sides can announce in September 2019 that they are opting out in September 2020. That’s why there hasn’t been a definitive “yes” to a 2020 tournament.

You can see why there’s hesitation here to start re-stocking Team North America gear on store shelves.

“We told the Players’ Association, based on the experience we had in the World Cup of 2004, it doesn’t make sense to be doing a World Cup and planning a World Cup when you’re in collective bargaining,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday during the Board of Governors meeting. “We either should both talk to our constituents about waiving the re-opener and doing the World Cup in 2020 or picking a different time. I’m happy to pick a different time and plan it but the Players’ Association has yet to engage in a meaningful way in terms of that decision.”

The league and players have been talking for some time about creating an international schedule, one that would include the World Cup, more games overseas, exhibitions against European teams and a Ryder Cup-style North America vs. Europe event. (Olympic participation is an entirely different animal and attending the 2022 Games in Beijing will likely be something that comes up in the next round CBA talks.)

Until the league and players come to an agreement, it remains to be seen if the World Cup, which has been held in 1996, 2004 and 2016, will ever find a regular spot on the NHL calendar.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.