The NHL introduced two international teams to play in a world cup. How stupid, right?
When you think of a world cup in any sport, you probably imagine a bunch of different countries playing against each other. Like in soccer, where you have 32 teams playing in eight groups, followed by a knock-out stage. Or at the IIHF World Championships, where it’s at least 16. What you don’t imagine is a Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America. Seriously, what’s up with you, NHL?
How do you like having a North American U23 team instead of having players like Connor McDavid play for their respective countries, and Team Europe instead of an additional European nation?
It’s an interesting wrinkle, from a league far too often scared of fun (c.f. John Scott fiasco). It gives everyone an underdog to root for which isn’t restricted to a single country. And underdogs are always fun. Plus, they could actually win. I don’t expect them to. But, they are young and will play with the reckless idiocy of youth, which might turn a meaningless preseason tournament into some actual hockey.
What do you do when you can only bring one album from your favourite band, but you can’t decide which? You go for the “best of” album!
Surely the goal is to get as many NHL players involved. In that case, it’s better to have Team N.A. and Team Europe than to try to squeeze in other European teams who are not well-represented in the NHL, like Germany or Slovakia. Since Canada and the U.S. are over-represented in the NHL, it makes sense to add an extra team that can draw from the large pool of North American talent. I think it’s a great idea.
Completely agree with you guys, here. Unfortunately, hockey is not as strong in some European countries and those countries are not well-represented in the NHL. That’s not to say quality players can’t come from outside the NHL, but the majority of the talent in the world is concentrated there. No point in having weaker teams that would be crushed by the likes of Canada, North America, USA, Sweden, Russia, and so on. From a competitive standpoint, the tournament is much better served deploying a team consisting of the best European players, handpicked from several different countries.
As for Team North America, I have to admit that team has me the most excited to watch the World Cup unfold. The sheer amount of skill on this team, regardless of their youth, will be endlessly intriguing. Plus, it’s not like these guys are going to be run over by the older, more experienced teams. Team N.A. is not really a dark horse if you think about it, not when they have the likes of McDavid, Monahan, Eichel, Saad, and many more lacing up. Some of Team N.A.’s players are young but have still played a couple full seasons in the NHL.
Again, I have a slightly different opinion based on my nationality. I don’t really care when Germany isn’t part of the tournament because that actually happens a lot, like when Germany didn’t qualify for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. But the fact that the NHL just makes stuff up to play an all-NHL tournament is kind of stupid. At least don’t call it “world cup” when that’s what you’re going to do.
Of course Team North America will be fun to watch, I most certainly agree with that. But Team North America shouldn’t be in a world cup. The same goes for Team Europe; and even though Germany has five players on the team, I definitely won’t be cheering for them.
Next: Canada vs. Vancouver