Well, the NHL did its own bit of link-dumping over All-Star Weekend, so let's buckle down and see if we can catch up on the latest spewings from Bill Daly, Gary Bettman and Tyler Seguin's secret Snapch--whoopsie, that third one is in the Links section. No spoilers here! Anyway, here's the scoop on the NHL's official Hockey World Cup announcement:
In the fall of 2016, the World Cup will feature a Young Stars team made up of Canadian and American players aged 23 and under along with Team Europe, a group of all-stars from countries not represented. Those teams will compete with Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic at the Sept. 17-Oct. 1 tournament in Toronto.
The NHL, NHL Players' Association and International Ice Hockey Federation had to agree on all those details and finally came to a consensus that all-star teams made for better competition than the more traditional choice of eight nations. [CBC]
Clearly (and this is mentioned in the CBC article, too) the NHL wants to avoid any 10-1 goalapalooza matches in this tournament, so the U-23 and European Whoevers squads are meant to supplement the Big Six nations. There's appeal in that from a viewer's perspective, one has to admit. It's fun to see Anze Kopitar and his dad try to drag the Slovenian team to victory whilst under siege by the Canadian Army of Mordor and everything, but the NHL is consistently pushing the idea of getting as many NHL-caliber players competing in one tournament as possible, and this does provide a means to accomplish that.
The downside, of course, is that such "unaffiliated" teams don't carry with them quite the same "glory for one's country" illusion that, say, the Winter Olympics do. But that's not going to stop the NHL from trying to foment doubt amongst its players about the necessity of Olympic participation, no siree Bob:
The NHL's long-range plan includes a Ryder Cup-style North America vs. Europe series in 2018 and a more expansive 2020 World Cup that could feature North American players with German, English, Irish, Italian or French heritage playing for those countries to grow the game in those nations.
No discussions have taken place yet on the possibility of NHL players going to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Players clearly want to go, as Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning called it "the Holy Grail" and John Tavares of the New York Islanders said it was important to be there.
"You talk about the Olympic Games and really what that means to sport across the world and how it connects any game to many different parts of the world and what it means to the people," Tavares said. "It's obviously developed a tremendous reputation and certainly it's produced some of the best hockey we've ever seen and it's done great things for our game."
It's the NHL's hope that the World Cup takes on that grand value.
"I think the World Cup may be influential in terms of how we ultimately decide, because if it's as successful as we hope it'll be and we think it'll be, the Olympics becomes far less important, to the players, even," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "If the World Cup's a big deal, best-on-best tournament, why do we need to go to the Olympics?" [CBC]
My two cents: the NHL is hoping to end Olympics participation as soon as possible, but they know that it might take one more four-year cycle before everyone really buys into the whole World Cup revamp as the place where truest hockey glory can be won on the international stage. Packing one tournament with 80-90% NHLers will, the NHL hopes, contrast starkly with the South Korea-vs-any-of-the-big-six-countries throttling that is likely to occur in 2018's preliminary matches.
Besides, the U-23 and Euro-mishmash teams are just one-time things. I'm sure the NHL will figure out something by the next World Cup. After all, this is the same league that hasn't had a lockout in over a year. Well-oiled machine, this.
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Jack Webb style today: Just the facts, folks. That was my plan, at least, until I started rambling. A tip to get through long links posts: only read every other word. This strategy is great because it leaves you much more time for aimless Facebook scrolling and Buzzfeed clickbait clicking.
Rick Nash and Tyler Seguin are the only players on a 50-goal pace right now. That is one of many storylines to follow in the home stretch of the season. [THN]
Tyler Seguin, like 84% of current high school students, has a secret Snapchat account. This is big news, Sports Illustrated tells us. [SI]
NESN acknowledges that Seguin assisted on Bergeron's goal. That might be a story in and of itself. Well, I guess it is a story because I am linking to it, but you know. [NESN]
And here's a good (and timely) piece on Tyler Seguin growing into a two-way player from Mark Stepneski. [Stars]
Mike Heika has a big rundown of where the Stars are with 36 games to play, including quotes from Jim Nill and Tom Gaglardi. Surprise: the Stars probably won't move pending UFAs if they're in playoff position. Probably. [DMN]
This is a piece about three possible trade targets for the Stars. I will name the players mentioned respectively, "Very doubtful," "Please, no," and "That's ridiculous...wait...is it? Maybe not quite as ridiculous as I thought, but...come on...right?" Those names would not fit on jerseys, though. [The Hockey Writers]
The Texas Stars' lone AHL All-Star Game representative followed in the footsteps (kinda) of another former Texas Star, Jamie Benn. Maxime Fortunus won the shooting accuracy competition then added a nifty shootout goal to boot (you can watch the goal at the link). [100 Degree Hockey]
Also in Texas, All-Star Gamer Travis Morin (who wasn't able to play due to injury) has signed a two-year, two-way contract. [Stars]
John Tavares was the boss with the sauce last night, scoring four goals. He's pretty good. [THN]
Alex Ovechkin was lobbying to be picked last during the All-Star Game draft, but not because he wanted the car for himself. Yet another reminder that Ovi is just the best. Heartwarming stuff, this. [NHL]
Gary Bettman does see the NHL expanding to Canada at some point. Also, listen to ol' GB talk about how he watched every player after implanting tracking devices in their clothes. Did I make that sound creepy enough? [SportsNet]
More big news: the NHL's unveiled tracking technology is going to make current "possession metrics" look like flannelgraphs, or so everyone was saying after the Sportvision tech showed up. The mind boggles thinking of the many uses for such technology. The potential to accurately measure shot quality makes me drool in my brain, which is grosser than it sounds. [NHL]
Finally, in case you're souring on the All-Star thing, here is a video of Daryl Sutter's son, Chris, assisting with some of the coaching duties. Chris was born with a form of Down Syndrome, but he's still a great coach: