World Cup of Hockey previewAugust 28, 2016, by
Beginning September 17, the world of hockey will bring back the international competition that so many of us crave without having to wait for the 2018 Winter Games. The World Cup of Hockey will reinstitute itself next month in an effort to bring about some good hockey fun prior to the season starting.
Teams have been fully announced, with several alternate players selected. The tournament is assembled with only eight teams, which allows for each team to get a fair shot at making it to the finals. Teams like Team North America and Team Europe will be comprised of either youngsters or of several nationalities who may not have otherwise created a team. It’s an exhibition that should prove to be fun for fans to watch.
Looking ahead, what can we expect from these teams? Much like the USA and gymnastics, we’ve become accustomed to assuming that Canada could beat anybody. The introduction of Team North America throws a wedge in this, however, since all of the selections are Americans and Canadians under the age of 23. The roster (shown below) contains so many names that would otherwise help Canada… and USA for that matter.
The Rangers will have representation in Mats Zuccarello (Team Europe), JT Miller (Team North America), Henrik Lundqvist (Team Sweden), Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh (both Team USA). Though still far out, and with the unusual inclusion of hybrid teams, a few observations could be made.
The USA team is nearly identical to the team that the States put out in the 2014 Winter Olympics. This did not end well. Pairing an older team (yes, of course they have to all be 24+) whose main identity is “grit” is probably not the way to beat the pure skill that’ll be thrown out by Canada or North America. John Tortorella coaching is something that Rangers fans will be familiar with, and Brian Burke still selecting teams is discouraging simply because it indicates that there is no sense of urgency for change.
We can explore the glaring absence of Stanley Cup winner Phil Kessel from selection, especially when first few players on each team were announced and we heard that Justin Abdelkader (no disrespect to him, but really?) made it. It’s an old school mindset that tends to frustrate fans, even those whose minds don’t automatically go to #fancystats.
My underdog selection — if you could call it that, really — is Team North America, one that some critics are concerned do not have the veteran leadership required to win. Russia always has something to prove, Canada always seems to win, and you can never really count Sweden out, but my dark horse this year looks to be North America.
Viewing rosters here, tell us in the comments who you think will take it all this October 1."World Cup of Hockey preview",