2016 World Cup of Hockey Report (Semi-Finals)

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The World Cup is coming to a close and for the NHL there are some things to seriously think about as they head to preparation for the next World Cup.

This year the NHL made some decisions with plenty of criticism surrounding them but many of those decisions turned out to be great for the tournament.

Chief among them the idea to bring in the two separate teams that never existed before and were not meant to last.

Team North America and Team Europe were the two teams with the most criticism heading into the tournament.

They were teams made up of the best under 23 talent and of the European players from other countries not involved in the tournament.

Essentially Team North America was a chance to highlight the best young talent in the game and Europe was a chance to involve the best players from the smaller countries.

The idea was to bring them into this tournament before they figure out a way to decide who of the smaller European countries should be included in the World Cup in 2020.

As the tournament moved on though these two teams quickly became a major reason to watch the games.

North America was one of the most exciting teams in the tournament with ridiculous speed that gave every team problems.

They fought it out with every team and were never really completely out of a game despite the lack of experience in big tournaments.

Team Europe was supposed to be a placeholder and a team that couldn’t compete with the best teams because they really were never a team.

There was no experience playing together as a team with only a handful of players actually used to playing together in international hockey.

They surprised everyone with the first game in exposing the USA and starting the tournament with a big win.

That win led to more wins and to second place in their group where their only loss came against the Canadians.

After the semi-finals, they continued to surprise as they found their way past Sweden in a tough game that went to overtime.

The Europeans took the win and are now two wins away from winning the entire tournament.

The Europeans were never expected to make it this far but they have come through all of their potential issues to be one of the two finalists.

Their chances against the Canadians, who are widely considered to be one of the best international teams ever assembled, are not great especially when it comes down to a three-game series.hockey-sidebar

The European may surprise some and take the title but beating this Canadian team twice seems to be too big of a task for anyone right now.

Still, the Europeans have had a better tournament than anyone expected to make it a success for this team that was thrown together only a few months ago.

The success of the Europeans and the North Americans has given the NHL something to think about when it comes to the next tournament.

As much as everyone would like to see real countries return to the World Cup the young guns on North America and the combination of the best European players has made things interesting.

The criticism is still there for the NHL in excluding countries from the World Cup but the entire point of the World Cup is to put all of the best players on the ice against each other.

The North Americans likely would not have all made their teams with so much talent on the USA and Canada, some would have been locks for these teams, though.

As for Europe, some of the best players in the league would have been excluded due to the fact that they are the lone stars on smaller teams.

A player like Anze Kopitar would never have participated because Slovenia is not a team that would likely make the World Cup.

Players like that need to be seen on this big stage but without Team Europe he never would have touched the ice.

The two teams might not be the best concepts to the traditionalists but they both provided plenty of excitement throughout the World Cup and have made a case for returning in 2020.

Whether that happens or the NHL decides against it this tournament would not have been as good as it was had it not been for these two teams despite the end results after the final series.


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