By Dan Rosen – NHL.com
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are having regular discussions about staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2020, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Monday.
Daly, though, said the caveat to having a World Cup in the fall of 2020 is the need for labor certainty at that time, which is part of the ongoing discussions with the NHLPA.
“Our position is we don’t want to hold it if there is labor uncertainty,” Daly said. “We really need labor certainty to play it. It didn’t work so well in 2004 when we tried that.”
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires following the 2021-22 season, but the League and the NHLPA each can trigger a reopening of CBA negotiations in September of 2019, which could lead to the expiry of the current CBA following the 2019-20 season.
Daly said the NHL and NHLPA need to reach an agreement by the end of January at the latest to either waive their CBA reopener rights in September 2019 or push the deadline back if they want to have enough time to plan and execute a World Cup in 2020.
“That’s the issue, when are you getting too close to really be able to pull it off the way it should be pulled off,” Daly said. “I think that’s the timeframe. If you go past the end of January, I think it would be very difficult to plan and execute a World Cup of Hockey in 2020.”
The NHLPA does not share the NHL’s view that there must be labor certainty in the fall of 2020 to stage a World Cup at that time, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.
Fehr mentioned that he doesn’t think tying the potential marketing, promotion and branding opportunities a World Cup presents to collective bargaining is necessary.
“That said, I understand the sensitivity, I understand the timing from their standpoint and if there is a way that we can get all that done, certainly we’ll try,” Fehr said.
The League and the NHLPA are talking about changing the World Cup format for 2020 to make it a multi-city tournament that would feature eight national teams.
The World Cup of Hockey 2016 was played in Toronto and featured six national teams as well as two mixed teams, Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America was made up of the best players 23 years old or younger from the United States and Canada. Team Europe was made up of the top players from the European countries that were not already represented in the World Cup (Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia). Canada defeated Team Europe in two games to win the gold medal.
“I’d say our preliminary discussions would be leaning toward eight national teams as opposed to those two teams, but we had a lot of success with those two teams,” Daly said. “So, I wouldn’t rule it out, I just would say it’s probably not the favorite right now.”
Daly said the NHL is also interested in staging an international event similar to golf’s Ryder Cup, but that’s part of a larger international schedule it still hopes to work out with the NHLPA.
“A lot of that is dependent on having a long-term relationship through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, so we’ll see how that plays out,” Daly said.
Daly said the League’s position on its players participating in the Olympics has not changed.
The NHL did not send players to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics after participating in the previous five Winter Games. There is no current agreement for NHL players to attend the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“There’s nothing new on the subject,” Daly said. “You’ve heard what our owners’ position is on the subject. We know the players very much are in support of participating in the Olympics. We’re going to have discussions between now and then and we’ll see where it goes.”