Ramblings about the NHL and NHLPA’s World Cup of Hockey

It's an opportunity to see an Olympic-like tourney with some of the world's top players

BY ZACHARY CORMIER

Lacombe Express

The NHL and NHLPA’s World Cup of Hockey is fast approaching and I could not be more conflicted about it.

On one hand, it’s an opportunity to see an Olympic-like tournament that features the best hockey players in the world representing their countries.

On the other, if the NHL and NHLPA-owned event goes well, it will likely mean that it will become the ONLY Olympic-like tournament that features the best hockey players in the world representing their countries.

But I don’t have nearly enough room to rant about the ongoing soap opera that is the Olympic negotiations between the International Ice Hockey Federation, the International Olympic Committee and the NHL on players’ participation at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Mostly because my editors say I’m not allowed to swear in print.

So instead, let’s talk about the World Cup itself, because with pre-tournament exhibition games pretty much wrapped up and the puck set to drop on Saturday in Toronto, I find myself facing a very odd dilemma for an international tournament I don’t know which team I’m going to cheer for.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada and I love the fact that we are unequivocally the top hockey nation in the world.

But I also like to cheer for an underdog when it comes to big events like this one. And if you take a quick glance at Team Canada’s roster, you’ll realize pretty quick that they are about the farthest thing from an underdog that you can get.

I mean, if you’ve got so much depth at centre that you put Brad Marchand on the wing to play with Sidney Crosby on your top line, then I think you’re doing alright.

Canada is good at hockey. It’s just what we do. But at this point, cheering for Team Canada at the WCH would feel like cheering for John Cena or the Chicago Blackhawks. I just can’t do it.

Thankfully, the NHL’s recent penchant for gimmicks in all of their events (let’s play a game of hockey outdoors in California because why the heck not?) has provided a palatable alternative: Team North America.

As much as I scoffed at the idea when the league first announced it, the thought of having a team made up solely of the best NHL players under 23-years-old is brilliant. I mean, Johnny Gaudreau playing with Connor McDavid? Sign me up!

Plus, if you look at the U23 team’s roster, it becomes harder and harder to dismiss them as a gimmick. Many of the team’s marquis players actually represent the future of professional hockey in Canada.

Think about it. Gaudreau is probably the Calgary Flames’ franchise player and will be for years to come. McDavid is going to be the captain of the Edmonton Oilers this year and he’s 19-years-old. Then you have Auston Matthews, who may be the best thing that has happened to Toronto Maple Leafs fans since their memorable playoff run in 2014.

Maybe with him in the lineup they’ll be able to hold on to those 4-1 leads. (Sorry Leafs fans. Couldn’t resist.)

Those three players alone represent the future of nearly half of Canada’s professional hockey teams.

This is a group of some of the most exciting hockey players to set foot on the ice since the Wayne Gretzky era. And after watching them pick apart Team Europe in the pre-tournament games, I’m beginning to think that maybe they’ve got a shot at doing well at this thing.

And I, for one, hope they do. Not only because it would be great to see the future of hockey shine on the world stage, but because it would be funny to watch NHL brass scramble to try and find a national anthem for a team made up of players from both Canada and the U.S.

Who wouldn’t want to watch an anthem singer at centre ice looking confused as he sings 18 ‘Til I Die by Bryan Adams? Now that’s good television right there.

zcormier@lacombeexpress.com

 

Just Posted

Lacombe mayor attends fall Mid-Sized Mayors’ Caucus

Caucus highlights fiscal responsibility

Lacombe Canadian Archery champion finishes 10th at worlds

Cameron Herbert has been a competitive archer for 10 years

Lacombe County: Do you have a gated property? Here’s what you need to know.

These gates are a deterrent for rural crime, they can also impede on emergency personnel

Lacombe Police Service joins North American rail-safety operation aimed at reducing preventable deaths and injuries on rail lines

Operation Clear Track aims to reduce the number of railway crossing and trespassing incident

WATCH: Enhanced Emergency Department opens at Lacombe Hospital

$3.1 million facility jointly funded by AHS, Lacombe Health Trust

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Judge finds Alberta couple not guilty in toddler son’s death

It was the second trial for the Stephans, who were found guilty by a jury in 2016

Alberta couple charged in toddler son’s death to learn fate from judge

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life

Alberta government pitching that small rural areas pay for policing: NDP

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population

Alberta inquiry into oil and gas foes could face legal challenge from Ecojustice

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has repeatedly accused U.S. charities of bankrolling efforts

Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

The report describes the occasion as an ‘Arabian Nights’-themed gala event

‘Troubling, insulting’: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reacts to Trudeau’s brownface photo

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democrats, responded with a call for love after Trudeau photos surface

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

Most Read