For better or for worse, the World Cup of Hockey is coming. Camps open a week from today, and a pre-tournament schedule consisting of 12 games kick off from Sept. 8-14 for the eight teams competing for something that’s not the Stanley Cup or the gold medal. So what are they competing for exactly? The satisfaction of victory, duh! Yup.
With ESPN airing hockey games for the first time in who knows how long, that should drum up some excitement, but is there any? We asked a few members of the Raw Charge staff via email, and also friend of the site former NHLer Patrick O’Sullivan via Twitter, to share their thoughts.
Allokago: I'm terrified. I'm already planning sacrifices to the hockey gods in the hopes of preventing injuries.
John Fontana: The World Cup doesn't do it for me. It doesn't work because North America is playing Team USA and Team Canada along with other teams representing elsewhere in the world. Oh, sure, playing up North American player depth in the NHL is necessary through a bilateral team, but... eh...
It's an attempt to capitalize off the worth of the Winter Olympics and all that, but I admit right now I even dial back how much I follow those games compared to the regular NHL.
I'll follow news out of the World Cup on a casual basis, especially if the Lightning are affected by the games (read: injuries, conflict issues with traditional rival players) but in general, the World Cup is just a piece of irrelevance to me.
JustinG.: I'm excited for Team North America. I would rather see this format than the Olympics as all the teams are "super" teams. Hopefully no major injuries and the games are competitive.
Waffleboardsave: The first World Cup of Hockey was one of my earliest exposures to the game, and I imagine I’m not the only one who fell in the love with hockey permanently thanks to a team of Americans led by the likes of Brett Hull, Mike Richter and Tony Amonte.
Despite recognizing and agreeing with some of the criticism centered around this particular incarnation of the tournament, there will be some kids — or many kids — who will tune in with wide-eyed wonder and find a hero on one of these teams. If we’re trying to grow the game (we can agree on this, right?) there really isn’t a "right" way to do it. It’s not perfect, but it’s hockey nonetheless, and for me, and others, that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Patrick O’Sullivan: I think this version of the World Cup is a bit a joke. Made-up teams... like come on. From a player’s perspective it just doesn't mean that much. Guys will compete and it will be good hockey but the date is another factor why it's a bit contrived in my opinion.