January 30, 2015

The World Cup of stupid

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey, Olympics

I might be a little late to the party on this one, but when you’re sick, you don’t really feel like thinking about things that make you feel even worse.

Over that monstrosity known as NHL all-star weekend, commissioner Gary Bettman announced the return of the World Cup of ice hockey.

What a joke.

There couldn’t be a more ham-fisted way of this league trying to side-step the Olympics.

What Bettman doesn’t realize is that this little tournament he is trying to pull off doesn’t have a fraction of the cache of the Games.

Players don’t want to compete for this resuscitated Cup, they want Olympic medals!

The two big problems that the NHL has with the Olympics is that it must take two weeks off mid-season and that the next Games will be in South Korea, making it hard for the NHL to use as a tool to market players because of the difficult time difference.

It won’t get any better in 2022 either, when the Winter Games will be either in China or Kazakhstan.

Really, this is just a measure of control for the league over its players, and it’s a poor move on their behalf.

The worst part about this World Cup proposal: The two non-national teams that will be involved. There will be an “all-star” team made up of players from the remaining countries not invited, which is stupid, and a Young Guns team featuring the best young North American players 23 and under, which is completely preposterous.

Are there really not eight countries in the world good enough to play in this World Cup? And if not, why are we bothering to even call it that?

The Young Guns team is especially stupid when you consider that it will amount to a much of second-year players going against Olympic-calibre stars. Looking over Canada’s roster from the Sochi Olympics, only Matt Duchene would have qualified to be a Young Gun. Doesn’t seem fair, right?

The timing of when this World Cup will occur isn’t good either. In a league where the off-season is too short already, the league’s top players are now going to have to be in game shape by early September. It also means that teams will be without their top players until right before the season starts, making preparation more difficult.

Finally, don’t get me started on this even more preposterous Ryder Cup idea!

Having a series between a team of the top North American players and the top European players is just plain dumb. Nobody draws lines like that in ice hockey except for Don Cherry. And when you consider that the biggest national rivalry hasn’t been Canada vs. Russia for a long time and is now Canada-U.S.A., why would you want to see those two sides team up?

And to think, the NHL had been on such a nice run too.

There has been  a noticeable lack of scandals and mistakes. The quality of play is up and the league growing, even think about – gasp! – expansion. Fights are even way down, too – which at least I’m thrilled about.

But now, they gotten too greedy and flown too close to the sun.

Just like goals at the all-star game, too much is not always a good thing.

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