The NHL draws players from around the globe but despite the world-wide participation rates, the world of hockey only gets a few opportunities to show off its international aspect. However, in 2016, the NHL and global hockey community decided to change that by re-inaugurating the World Cup of Hockey.
This event was attempted two other times, in 1996 and 2004. This year the event will occur from Sept. 17 through Oct. 1, preceding the NHL regular season at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Yesterday, preliminary rosters were released for the eight teams to participate in the highly-anticipated event. Team USA is headed by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild as well as Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Los Angeles Kings goalie, Jonathan Quick. Team Canada includes former Olympic Captain, Sidney Crosby as well as Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews, and Dallas Stars point-leaders Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
Other notable names include NHL leading goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin for team Russia, Boston Bruins goalie Tukka Rask for team Finland, Philadelphia Flyers wing, Jakub Voracek for team Czech Republic, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for Team Sweden. Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Anze Kopitar, alternate captain for the Los Angeles Kings will play for Team Europe as a representation of other European countries with NHL participants.
This year a new concept was introduced in that of team North America which will be comprised of Canadian and American players under the age of 23. This team is led by top-rookies Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid.
“I came to [the 2004 World Cup] after the 2002 Games thinking that I had seen everything. And then what I saw in 2004 was way beyond any Stanley Cup Playoff game. I left there shocked at how hard the games were, how intense the games were, how you just could not take a shift off,” said St Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. The World Cup of Hockey is said to be a top form of hockey that should provide unparalleled excitement for fans and players alike.
The format will feature eight teams separated into two groups, group A consists of Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team USA and Team Europe and group B being, Team Russia, Team Finland, Team Sweden and Team North America, for a preliminary round from Sept. 17-22. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the semifinals Sept. 24-25. The winners meet in a best-of-three Final with games played on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and, if necessary, Oct 1. The games will be televised in the United States by ESPN and TVA Sports in Canada.
In addition, adidas designed eight all-new jerseys to be worn by the teams during the tournament. You can see each jersey as well as a full roster for each team here.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports