International Ice Hockey Federation president Luc Tardif told Russian outlet Championat on Wednesday that they’d like to reschedule the 2022 World Junior Championship, which was cancelled today due to a series of forfeited games at the tournament due to COVID cases among teams.
Tardif says that the summer of 2022 is the most likely outcome and that the tournament would likely stay in Canada. From a financial and television perspective, it would make sense to hold the tournament after the conclusion of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final in July.
Translated from Russian, Tardif had this to say on the tournament’s cancellation:
The integrity of the tournament was violated, for reasons of player safety, we decided it was necessary to hold the [WJC] for real… Hockey is excellent, but the [Omicron] situation is disappointing. We preferred to end the tournament now, we will develop a proposal for all federations with new dates.
One important note from the interview is that teams will be able to modify their rosters for the tournament, should it be rescheduled. It’s big news for players like Finland’s Aatu Raty, who weren’t taken to the tournament due to testing positive for COVID during the selection process.
Tardif says he doesn’t know if the tournament will be held in a bubble this time around. To be fair, it’s impossible to predict the nature of COVID six months from now, and it’s therefore impossible to make a call on that front.
Still, optimism remains for these junior players to get an honest crack at medalling at the World Juniors in 2022.