Coming in September, September 17 to be exact, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association are sponsoring an event called the World Cup of Hockey. This event has been in existence since 1996 when the World Cup replaced the Canada Cup which ran from 1976 to 1991. This tournament has ran on an irregular schedule being played twice before, once in 1996 with the United States winning and once in 2004 with Canada winning.
So what exactly is the World Cup? Even your most seasoned hockey fans, with exception of those out of the great State of Minnesota, may not even know what this tournament is and how it differs from the NHL regular games. The World Cup of Hockey is a two-week tournament, featuring 8 teams- Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA and two all-star squads which make up Team Europe and Team North America. This tournament will feature 150 of the best players in the NHL and will progress from the Preliminary Round to the Semifinals and ultimately the Finals. All the games are played at one location with the 2016 location being the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The eight teams will be split into two Groups, Group A and Group B to start off the tournament. After the Preliminary Round, the top two teams from each Group will advance to the Semifinals which begin September 24. In this round, the first-place team from each Group will face an elimination game against the second-place team from the other Group. The two Semifinal teams who successful eliminate their opponent in the Semifinals will advance to the Final. The two teams in the Final will play a best of 3 series on September 27, September 29 and if necessary October 1.
So now you know what the World Cup is, how does it differ from the NHL regular games. Well, unlike the Olympics, the World Cup is sanctioned by the NHL therefore, it is played under the NHL Rules. This is not like the Olympics where it is run by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Besides the rules, the other noticeable difference between the two are the size of the rink. They play on an Olympics size rink as opposed to the standard NHL rinks. The rink size will be suitable for your speed players like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and others who excel at this type of game. With the rink being bigger, the space behind the net is larger so you can expect more action behind the goalie. There will also be more space between the blue lines to make break out passes. The rink is wider and players with heavy shots will come at the goalie with difference angles, like defensemen who can execute the one-timer. The bigger rink will also make for a very exciting second period when they are having to make extra long changes than they are use too. The long change could potentially make for some heavy second period scoring, especially short handed.
The World Cup should bring some he fast and furious pace of the NHL Playoffs with a little flare of watching hockey before the NHL Season starts. Now you can watch the World Cup in a mere 63-days while rooting your country on and gearing up for your teams NHL Debut for the 2016 season less than 2 weeks after!