Consensus for World Cup of Hockey return but Olympic future unresolved
North American ice hockey's NHL and the NHLPA, the players' union, want the World Cup of Hockey to become a fixture on the sport's calendar, but the two organisations remain at odds over the league's involvement in the winter Olympic Games.
The NHL and NHLPA are in talks over a new collective bargaining agreement, with a long-term international competition calendar key to an agreement.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, which returned after a 12-year hiatus, was widely deemed a success, and plans were in place for the tournament to be held quadrennially, but the NHL and the NHLPA decided at the start of this year to scrap the 2020 edition in order to focus on the CBA.
Don Fehr, chief executive of the NHLPA, told AP: "One of the things I hope we will have is an agreement to establish the long-term schedule for international events which would include World Cups of Hockey. That's a stand-alone event. It should not be seen as competing with or replacing the Olympics. It can be done."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman added: "We think that's a great event and it's something we've been trying to work out for more than two years," he said. "We're all in favor of setting an international calendar, and it takes two to tango, so to speak."
However, he added: "We think the World Cup of Hockey can be a wonderful event, particularly if we don't go to the Olympics."
NHL players, on the whole, want to compete in the Olympics, but did not do so in PyeongChang last year.
They had participated in every winter Olympics since Nagano 1998, but only played at Sochi 2014 following a hard-won agreement that the league secured with the IOC. Financial terms could not be agreed for the NHL to interrupt its season to enable its players to participate in PyeongChang.
Fehr said he would prefer NHL players to compete at the Olympics, and then stage the World Cup every four years, with two years separating the events. That would likely mean the World Cup of Hockey not returning until 2024 at the earliest.
He said: "If it was up to me, I'd do it all sooner rather than later, but we'll see. The question is, can we get the agreement on all the intervening pieces."
The World Cup of Hockey was played in 1996 and 2004, before the 2016 tournament, which featured six national teams and two continental teams from Europe and North America (an under-23 team).
The 15-day tournament generated $60 million in revenue.