Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Comment: The Ice Hockey World Cup in its current form should end soon


The number and quality of NHL players in the World Cup are declining at an alarming rate.

Like a pizza with a splash from the day before. It was not good in the beginning and now it is worse.

Such is the taste of this spring’s Ice Hockey World Cup tournament. The level of the Games was questionable even a year earlier. Compared to the firecrackers this spring, this was a really high quality tournament.

When the best players in the world communicate to the crowd that there isn’t much interest, it’s hard for even an outsider to cheer. Canada and the United States in particular have slapped the IIHF with a wet rag.

The North Americans packed full comedy groups into the Tampere and Riga machines, noting the countries’ potential. Both teams are filled with NHL players, who, however, are a far cry from the world’s most talented elite.

Only Alex Touche and Connor Garland are in the top 100 when listing the best American scorers in the NHL this regular season. Canada has five such players, with only one (Tyler Toffoli) ranked among the top 50 Canadian players.

After all, not everyone continues to play in the NHL playoffs. The message to international hockey from Canadians and Americans is clear: Change the damn thing.

Looking at the lineup, the popularity of the World Cup in Canada and the United States is lower than ever. When Russia goes too, medals are heavily discounted.

Alex Touch ran in from Niklas Freeman and Nicolas Matinpalo in the match between Finland and the USA.

Alex Touch ran in from Niklas Freeman and Nicolas Matinpalo in the match between Finland and the USA. Photo: OC Ahola/Amulehti

Tyler Toffoli is the star player of the Canadian team.

Tyler Toffoli is the star player of the Canadian team. Photo: GINTS IVUSCANS / AFP / LEHTIKUVA

So what should be changed?

Here’s where you can start: Playing the World Cup every year should be stopped as soon as possible. The competitions are divided up to spring 2026. After that you can start. The fewer tournaments that are played, the more valuable and interesting they become.

The topic is not new. The record has been known for decades, and everyone knows its words.

However, it is worth noting that the level of the World Cup is in danger of falling worryingly. There are only 72 NHL players in the tournament, including those who have played an NHL game this season.

The year before, when the Games were also played without Russia, 85 players entered the NHL. Ahead of the 2021 Corona Games, the NHL received over a hundred confirmations.

In addition to numbers, the level of players from the other side of the Atlantic has dropped. We’ve already compared to a year ago, and it didn’t look good. Now the curve has continued its descent.

NHL arena players who participated in the games scored an average of 25 points in the NHL regular season this season. A year ago, the number stood at 29 points, and before that it was closer to 40. In the World Cup, the level has dropped, although at the same time points are being scored at a record pace in the NHL.

In Tampere and Riga, only individual top names are participating. Finland and Switzerland make up the top two when it comes to attracting NHL players, while Sweden, for example, has to settle for people from the second basket. Swiss Kevin Fiala and Nico Hischier bring more interest to the opening week. Tampere is not happy about them in the preliminary group stage.

It is clear that the World Cup will not be less frequent, and there is no need to look far for this. The year before, the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation had guaranteed 14 million euros in profit at the Games. It would be desirable that the organizers become interested not only in money, but also in the content of the product.

Now it seems the only thing left to do is the games in Riga when ticket sales drop. Maybe it’ll wake up the IIHF bosses too.

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