Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The search to locate the World Cup of Hockey trophy is on

Those of you who subscribe to the theory Major League Baseball wants no part of the Olympics have some more ammo, courtesy the NHL:
"(Y)ou'll be happy to hear the NHL and the NHL Players' Association are working toward staging another World Cup of Hockey tournament in the not-too-distant future.

"According to an informed source, the sides are looking at two dates, the most probable being late August or early September 2011. Another possibility is February 2012. That date, however, is less likely because the 2011-12 NHL regular season would have to be shut down to accommodate the tournament. The owners aren't thrilled with the idea of dimming the lights during the season for any reason. They do so grudgingly to allow the players to participate in the Olympics. In this case, I believe they'd be wise to at least consider it." -- ESPN.com
In MLB's case, Bud Selig and the boys want to build up the World Baseball Classic and keep the revenues for themselves. It's more preferable than being a supplicant to the International Olympic Committee, which is full of foreigners who don't understand freedom, liberty or why the second baseman doesn't have to touch the bag when he's turning the double play.

One can see why hockey might be headed down the same road, where they're not buying the notion that participating in the Olympics serves any noble purpose. It's isolationist and greedy, sure, but the noblest purpose for the NHL these days is trying to stay at 30 teams. Given the ongoing COC-up over the crest on Canada's hockey jerseys, one wonders what side Hockey Canada would be on if the NHL decides to end the Dream Team experiment which began 11 years ago in Nagano.

One completely crackers suggestion for the Olympic hockey tournament: Once every four years, fold the world juniors into the Games. Teenagers represent their country in other sports all the time.

NHL, union continue World Cup of Hockey talks (E.J. Hradek, ESPN.com; via Kukla's Korner)


Dennis Prouse said...

In a strange reversal of positions, it is now the NHLPA that wants to keep sending NHLers to the Olympics, and the owners who want to shut it down after Vancouver. I have always been ambivalent about NHLers at the Olympics. I actually enjoyed watching the Canadian women win gold in Salt Lake City more than the men. Hey, I enjoyed the men's final as much as anyone, but I could never quite escape the knowledge that, win or lose, these guys were going back to their $3 million a year gigs right after the game. The women, OTOH, had dedicated a huge chunk of their lives to this effort, not being paid and putting aside everything else in their lives to train for this moment. That, to me, is what the Olympics should be all about. It should be saved for athletes for whom it is the pinnacle of their careers, not an amusing two week diversion.

sager said...

What was David Naylor's line in the McCown's Law book? Paraphrasing, it was, "Kristina Groves wins an Olympic medal and it's the culmination of a lifelong dream. Mats Sundin wins a gold medal and it's the culmination of a dream that took form last Tuesday."

Anonymous said...

Having the juniors play the Olympics is a good idea, and not without precedent -- Olympic soccer is a U-23 tournament, I think. Making hockey U-20 seems reasonable.

I wonder how much more pressure there would be on NHL teams to make their young players available of it was the Olympics rather than just the WJC.

Duane Rollins said...

The IOC will never be OK with a u-20 or u-23 tournament. It only puts up with soccer becase it's soccer.

Anonymous said...

With the continued participation by the NHL in the Olympics, is there really a need to have a World Cup of Hockey?
The original idea of the Canada Cup, the World Cup's predecessor was to have a best of the best tournament involving all the top hockey nations.
This wasn't possible back in 1976, because the Olympics forbade NHL players and the World Championship conflicted with the NHl playoffs.
Now of course, the landscape of international hockey has changed tremendously, with a fully open Olympic tournament a reality.
In my mind, that makes the World Cup redundant.
In fact, it's questionable whether fans really want this tournament, recalling how the first two went.
I say deep six the World Cup permanently and relegate it to hockey history.

sager said...

The argument is a properly run World Cup of Hockey would make NHL participation in the Olympics redundant, even superfluous.

Baseball doesn't want to be in the Olympics — you could see where the NHL might (shortsightedly) follow their lead.

The Reverend said...

Well said sager. The NHL following the MLB's lead seems likely. Rightly or wrongly...

Anonymous said...

MLB doesn't want to be in the Olympics?
Isn't it more like the IOC doesn't want baseball in the Olympics?
I thought baseball was supposed to be dropped from future Olympics so how MLB owners feel about participating is a moot point, isn't it?

sager said...

It's really a little from Column A, a little from Column B, far as I'm concerned.

The IOC dropped it, but what did MLB ever do to argue for keeping it in, beyond half-hearted lip service? Maybe they try to get it back for 2016 in the hope the Olympics will be in Chicago.

MLB teams don't like having to release players in mid-season to go the Olympics -- it messes up their entire operation. Plus it means they can play up the WBC.