Because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Hockey Canada has decided to withdraw from the 2021 Spengler Cup, an international tournament that was to serve as a pre-Olympic tune-up for players and coaches outside of the NHL. Claude Julien was set to coach the club, but as Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated reported yesterday, he’s already back home in Canada.
In their explanation, Hockey Canada said this:
We have a long-standing tradition of participating in the Spengler Cup, and it is disappointing that we are unable to attend the prestigious event this year. However, we strongly believe this is the right decision to maintain the health and safety of our players, coaches and support staff that were set to represent Canada.
The tournament was set to kick off later this month and would have included many of the same players that would be selected for the Olympics, should the NHL officially pull out as expected. Now, those players could be looking for contracts with other European club teams to keep in shape for the next few months. Canada has won more titles at the Spengler than any other participant, taking home the title 16 times (compared to 15 for HC Davos). That includes the most recent event in 2019–the 2020 tournament was canceled.