The NHL had been hoping to pull off another World Cup of Hockey in February of 2021, but commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters today including Chris Johnston of Sportsnet that the idea is now dead. The league will hold an All-Star game instead, though Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic notes that it could potentially be in the style of an international competition of some sort. The last World Cup was held in 2016 and was considered a success by many, with the youthful Team North America and a Ralph Krueger-led Team Europe both connecting with fans across the league.
With the NHL pulling out of the last Winter Olympics, players and fans voiced their displeasure regarding the lack of a real best-on-best tournament. The IIHF World Championship only includes part of the NHL as many teams are still in the playoffs. The World Cup did represent a best-on-best format, however there were obviously some logistical issues that needed to be solved. For one, having it just before the season began risked injury for players, something Matt Murray experienced first hand. Murray suffered a broken hand in the tournament and missed the first part of the 2016-17 season, just a few months after winning his first Stanley Cup.
Because the league still very much intends on having a World Cup at some point, this news will bring up the question of participation in the next Olympics once again. The players have expressed that they want to go, but the league hasn’t changed their official stance on participation. Because the Olympics are not a league-run entity, the NHL feels as though the disruption to the regular season is too great. The World Cup, a joint effort between the NHL and NHLPA, would not be considered so. The next Winter Games are scheduled for February, 2022 in Beijing, China.
For now, we’ll have to wait to see what happens next for the World Cup and whether or not Team North America and Team Europe are one-time memories.