At this point it’s going to be something that they’re doing for the first time in 12 years and a lot isn’t known about it. There are several details that have been brought out by the NHL and a lot of fan and player reaction. In this article we’ll cover what it means for the regular season, what’s known about it at the time of writing and whether or not anyone’s going to tune in.
So here’s the thing: fans simply love hockey. They love to watch it, support it, talk about it, buy up popular merchandise, and remember all the best times that have happened in the history of the game. That’s precisely why this whole affair is going to be a bit of a mixed bag for the fans of the game. Part of the reason that they may love it: it’s hockey. But seriously, it’s going to be a whole bunch of the best players in the world competing at an extremely high level for country and for respect.
Here’s the problem though, the timing will cause it to coincide with pre-season. Although that doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing to the casual fan, as most people who follow the game know, there’s a huge amount of subtle teamwork that makes or breaks a season. Without the level of teamwork and cooperation that is engendered by gelling together during the pre-season (at the very least) players are going to be missing cues and making mistakes.
I mean just take a look at the Russian International team from the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was all the same guys. They were inarguably great players but they were made significantly better because they knew each other. They were able to read each other’s intentions and movements in ways that their opposition couldn’t. This allowed them to run circles around teams of talented people who didn’t know each other.
The Raw Facts
The tickets will go on sale Oct. 14 at Ticketmaster. All games will be on an NHL rink with NHL rules and NHL officials. There will be eight teams in two preliminary groups that will run Sept. 17 to 22, 2016. The two top teams in each group will advance to the Semis on Sept. 24 and 25. The winners will play a best-of-three competition starting on Sept. 27.
Group A will be Team Czech Republic, Team USA Team Canada, and Team Europe. Team Europe will include all of the teams that aren’t included in the four European teams (Czech Republic, Russia, Finland, and Sweden).
Group B consists of Team Russia, Team Finland, Team Sweden, and Team North America. North America will consist of players who will be 23 or younger as of Oct 1, 2016.
For those of you wondering what the point of having a team North America and a Team Europe in the mix is all about, let me give you the following quote from the NHL announcement: “Those two teams, they’re more competitive than any other country team would have been for this event, so it will make the competition more competitive as well,” Bettman said. ”
Otherwise, you would have had a country with maybe just a couple of NHL players. Now you have what are going to be two very strong teams highlighting more NHL players being included than any other way we could have done it.”
So, the whole point is to essentially increase the length of the season without actually doing that. It’s to get more hockey on the air-waves in a slightly different format. There have been really great hockey history moments that have happened in the historic Canada Cup and the Hockey World Cup that it morphed into before the lockout.
There probably will be more of those moments that play out. What will probably end up happening is that it’ll be a bit of a mixed bag. Some aspects of it will be enjoyable and others will leave us scratching our heads. Ultimately, though what will determine if it’s a thing that survives and enhances the hockey experience or simply is a sideshow from the NHL every four years is how they react to fan appreciation of it. That and whether or not it ends up ruining the NHL.