NHL, NHLPA planning for tournament games in North America, Europe
by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer
PARIS — The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are moving forward with plans for a World Cup of Hockey in 2024, targeting a 17-day window in February to hold the tournament.
The World Cup of Hockey was last played in 2016, when all games were played in Toronto. There were also tournaments in 1996 and 2004.
“We’re moving full steam ahead and that means we’re continuing to have regular meetings,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday during the NHL’s European Player Media Tour.
The 2024 tournament will feature at least eight national teams, with games played in North America and Europe, Daly said.
Meetings with the NHLPA and Luc Tardif, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, to discuss the World Cup were part of the trip to Paris.
“We’re out in market already moving ahead with plans for a February 2024 World Cup,” Daly said. “We’re still on schedule.”
Daly said the NHL and NHLPA are looking at a short list of markets to host games, including select European cities.
“We still want to play one pool in Europe, a preliminary round pool in Europe and a preliminary round pool in North America and move the semifinals and the final to a different city in North America likely,” he said. “I think that short list would universally encompass more traditional hockey markets.”
The tournament would likely take place across 15 days in February, with a day on the front end and a day on the back end built in for travel purposes.
Daly also said there are discussions about adding two nations to the tournament, bringing the total to 10 to create a qualification round to get down to eight teams.
“I think longer term, that’s our plan to have a qualification tournament at another time during the calendar,” Daly said. “Given the short timeframe we have between now and February 2024, if we have a qualification stage, I think it’s part of the tournament.”
There is still uncertainty about the potential for Russia to have a team in the World Cup, Daly said.
The NHL continues to suspend all business relationships in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in February and aligns with the mandate from the International Ice Hockey Federation that the nation is suspended from all international competitions until further notice.
Planning for the next World Cup is part of a grander plan by the NHL to continue promotion of the game and the League internationally, a push that was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic but is resuming this season with the 2022 NHL Global Series.
The Nashville Predators will play a preseason game in Bern, Switzerland on Oct. 3 and the San Jose Sharks will do the same in Berlin on Oct. 4 before they open the regular season against each other with two games in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8.
The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will play two games in Tampere, Finland on Nov. 4 and 5.
They will be the NHL’s first games outside of North America since 2019.
“It’s very important as we continue to build out our presence in Europe and our international business,” Daly said. “Having the Global Series back on European soil is very important to our business.”
Daly said the NHL is planning the 2023 Global Series and there are several NHL teams interested in participating.
He said the NHL also has ongoing internal dialogue about playing at least preseason games in non-traditional European hockey markets like Paris and London.
The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks played two regular-season games in London to start the 2007-08 season.
“We had a lot of people who are hockey fans from other parts of Europe fly to London to watch those games,” Daly said. “So I think you get that dynamic and if we were to bring a game to Paris, my guess is we’d get that same dynamic, we’d have hockey fans here even they aren’t Parisians. It’s certainly possible at some point.”
Daly also said the League is continuing to promote the game at the grassroots level in China by sending coaches to do youth clinics and invest in street hockey, but it’s not clear if the NHL China Games will resume.
The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played two preseason games in China in 2017 and the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames did so in 2018.
“That’s something we’ll have to focus on and make a decision on in the relatively near future but it’s still up in the air,” Daly said.