ALBANY, NY – The World Cup of Hockey 2016 begins in earnest on Sept. 17 and runs until Oct. 1; however, the pretournament games — friendlies if you will — begin Thursday. With this post, I wanted to look at the reasons why to get excited for the tournament and reason not to.
Also, on this week’s A-Devils Podcast, I will continue the theme and delve deeper into the World Cup of Hockey as a whole.
Why I’m Excited
• Hockey is back! Who cares what it is, its real life, competitive hockey. The Albany Devils last played on May 16 and the last NHL game was on June 12. It has been too long and I am starting to go through withdrawals. I need hockey back in my life, and this will hit the spot!
• This will be the third installment of the World Cup of Hockey. The first took place in 1996 with the United States defeating Canada (Mike Richter won the MVP). It was another eight years until the second World Cup of Hockey took place in 2004, this time with Canada winning over Finland (Vinnie Lacavalier won the MVP). We have waiting 12 years for this tournament, and it is about time.
• Take a look at the rosters of these teams and try not to get pumped up, I dare you. These are all-star teams filled with the best of the best. One of my favorite things about tournaments like this is that you get to see players who are normally foes, come together as teammates. So you’re telling me I get to see Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid on the power play together…sold!
• USA vs. Canada… Canada vs. USA… Say what you will about the one-sided history of the rivalry, but when the US plays Canada (in the Olympics, World Championships, World Juniors, etc.) patriotism flows from me. I still have nightmares about Sydney Crosby’s short-side OT winner in Vancouver.
• While there will be two New Jersey Devils playing in the tournament (Cory Schneider and Kyle Palmieri will suit up for Team USA), no team has me more excited than Team North America. This is essentially a “Young Guns” type of team, comprised of Americans and Canadiens who are under 23. This is the future of the NHL; the future of the sport. Jack Eichel, Austin Matthews, Johnny Gaudreau, Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba, Matt Murray and others will highlight a team full of potential and full of names you will be hearing for a long time.
Why I’m Not Excited
• While this will seem counterintuitive since I just mentioned how excited I am for Team North America, the whole dynamic of having an under-23 team and a team filled with Europeans whose countries don’t have complete teams, seems very forced. Team USA won’t have the best players from the US, and Team Canada won’t have the best players either since they will be skating for a made-up team. It gives the tournament a very gimmicky feel.
• Its all fun and games until Cory Schneider comes up lame in the World Cup of Hockey and has to miss regular-season time. Those playing in this tournament, and their teams, are risking an awful lot when it comes to injury. If any big name players go down with major injuries, these games could take an awful lot of well-deserved heat.
• The tournament runs until Oct. 1 and will keep players out of their NHL training camps. This may not be a big deal for some teams and some players, but new acquisitions and youngsters (looking at you Team North America) need that time to gel with their teammates and master the systems they will be playing come the regular season.
All in all I am looking forward to the World Cup of Hockey 2016…but honestly, I’m mostly just excited that hockey season is here!