NHL Week in Review (January 18-24)

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The NHL took another break this week with the All-Star weekend in full swing but they did not stay silent for the entire week. The NHL decided that this was the perfect time to announce the return of the World Cup of Hockey. It is far from a classic tournament as it began in 1996 and was only played twice, the last tournament was in 2004. With only two years of the tournament it has never been able to gain the traction that the NHL had hoped to find when they first introduced the tournament. In 1996 the tournament was an answer to the World Championship hosted by the IIHF. That tournament has always been considered the second biggest international hockey championship in the world but it has always had some issues. Namely the fact that the World Championships are held during NHL playoffs leaving many teams without their best players. No teams felt it more than the ones representing the two countries that pay attention to the NHL, Canada and the USA. With the majority of Canadians and Americans in the NHL some of the best remain in the hunt for the Stanley Cup while the Championship is running. The ones that aren’t may go to wherever the championship is but many remain at home to heal up from a long season. That left two of the biggest hockey countries out of the picture as they were forced to compete without their best players. For that reason the NHL looked to put on their own tournament that would allow the top NHL players from every country to play at a better time for the NHL season. The tournament was not overly successful mainly due to the fact that they only held it twice and had an eight year gap between the two tournaments. Then came the 2014 Olympic Games that once again drew plenty of viewers but forced the NHL to schedule around two weeks in the middle of the season. They weren’t too happy about it but in the end they agreed to let their players go to the Olympics in Russia. That will be the last Olympic games that NHL players are allowed to play in though as the next games in Korea will not have the league’s cooperation. Without the Olympics and with limited participation in the World Championship the NHL players and fans were left without an international tournament between the best of the best in the world. The league immediately began planning and as the Olympics ended in 2014 the rumours had already began about the return of the World Cup. That came true this week when the NHL announced the return of the World Cup tournament that will begin in 2016. September 17th will mark the start of the tournament which should replace or reduce the pre-season of the 2016-17 season but will be before the NHL season begins, therefore limiting the amount of scheduling changes that the NHL will have to do. The World Cup will be a part of the bigger plans for international series that includes a North America vs. Europe series in 2018 and a second World Cup in 2020. The league will also make some major changes to the tournament itself. The biggest of these changes will be the teams that participate. Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic will be the teams participating in the tournament but they will be joined by two new teams. One will be the European All-Star team made up of all players from Europe that do not have their own team. This is to feature top European stars that are from countries that are not featured in the main teams allowing more players to participate. The next new team will the Young Stars team that will feature only players under 23 years old giving the youth of the NHL a chance to shine and show if they can beat teams full of veterans. The new look of the tournament is meant to change things up and provide more excitement to this new tournament. It will also eliminate the need for a separate tournament to find the last two teams that will fill the final two spots. The new World Cup will be a chance for the NHL to get in on the business of international tournaments and is meant to provide the fans with a tournament full of NHL talent. As the World Championships continues to be held during the playoffs and the 2018 Olympics unlikely to see NHL players a new major tournament becomes a part of the international plan of the NHL.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Outdoor Games Determined
With the Stadium Series set to go in California in February the NHL has reportedly determined next season’s games as the Heritage Classic returns in Winnipeg and the Winter Classic is set for Foxborough, Colorado and Minnesota are set to host Stadium Series games next season

Seattle Ready for a Team
With the NHL expansion rumours rampant for a number of cities the mayor of Seattle made sure nobody forgot them claiming that the city had met with NBA and NHL officials to bring teams back to the Northwest

Malkin, Crosby out for ASG
The Pittsburgh Penguins were set to bring their usual all-star representatives but the big three were reduced to one this week as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin dropped out leaving Marc-Andre Fleury as the only Penguin All-Star

Cameras Ready
A new video has been circulating with NHL players wearing GoPro cameras and it all turned out to be an announcement with the NHL and GoPro coming to an agreement to use the portable cameras in games giving fans a unique perspective


Key Scores:
New York Rangers 5 – 2 Pittsburgh Penguins
– The Rangers continue to try to climb into the top of the division as they took on one of the best teams in the Metropolitan Division and beat that team as they took on the Penguins and moved up the standings

Carolina Hurricanes 4 – 1 Toronto Maple Leafs
– the Maple Leafs are a sinking ship and this game just provided more proof of that fact as their coaching change has not helped bring them from the depths with a loss to one of the worst teams in the league

Philadelphia Flyers 3 – 2 Pittsburgh Penguins (OT)
– The Battle of Pennsylvania is not what it was a few years ago as the Flyers are trying to climb into playoff contention while the Penguins are trying to remain near the top of the division although this game did not help them much

Ottawa Senators 4 – 3 Toronto Maple Leafs
– The Battle of Ontario is no longer for the top of the division or even playoff contention as both teams simply played to try to stay out of the basement with the Leafs losing and bringing up plenty of talk of blowing up the team

Next Week:
Team Toews vs. Team Foligno (Sunday January 25th; 5:00 pm ET)
– Columbus, Ohio plays host the NHL All-Star game as the NHL gets back to a regular schedule for the first time in two years with Jonathan Toews and Nick Foligno have drafted their teams and are set to compete for bragging rights

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders (Tuesday January 27th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of New York has taken on a new meaning this season as both teams sit atop the division and are fighting for supremacy in the division as the playoff race is set to start with the season winding down

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings (Wednesday January 28th; 10:30 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks and Kings faced off in the Western Conference Final last year in what many considered to be the de-facto Stanley Cup championship and they continue their Western Conference rivalry

Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames (Saturday January 31st; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Battle of Alberta is one of the few great Canadian hockey rivalries and despite the fact that both teams are sitting near the bottom of the standings they are sure to put on a great show in a bitter rivalry

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