The World Cup of Hockey will return, without a doubt, and avoid another 12-year break.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) executive director Don Fehr both confirmed on Friday that they expect the next World Cup of Hockey to be in 2020.
It is much less certain whether the best players will go to South Korea to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Photo: Dan Hamilton, USA TODAY
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) president Rene Fasel on Tuesday said the odds of NHL players going to the Pyeongchang Games were 50-50, a slight upgrade from his forecast in May.
Later the same day, Daly said he felt more “negative,” about the chances the league’s players will be in a sixth straight Olympics due to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to not pay for NHL players’ travel and insurance as it has in the past.
Fehr, who represents players who have made it clear they want to be in the Olympics, said he is more optimistic than pessimistic a deal will get done.
The union head insisted he is not concerned about the IOC’s stance.
“Everybody understands that nobody’s going to risk their career and future earnings and all the rest of it in return for no compensation and no coverage,” Fehr said. “No one will do that. They understand that. That’s been a given for a long, long time. If it plays out that way, which I do not expect it to play out that way, we’ll deal with it.”
The IOC is not buying the banter.
“I think both sides are playing poker,” president of the International Ski federation Gian Franco Kasper, who represents winter sports on the IOC executive board, said Friday in an interview.
The IOC does not want to continue its past practice of paying for NHL players’ travel and insurance because it does not want to have to do the same for athletes in other sports.
Fasel said it is his job to raise the money needed, which he estimates to be about US$10 million. Fasel said he plans to “beg,” for the funds from national Olympic committees and hockey federations. He acknowledged using some of the US$40 million the IOC gives the IIHF to fund its programs, including development opportunities for boys and girls, could be used to bring the best hockey players to South Korea.
Daly said the NHL would like a final decision to be made by the end of the year so that it can set the 2017-2018 schedule with or without a break midway through the slate for the Olympics.
The World Cup of Hockey, which the NHL and NHLPA teamed up to bring back for the first time since 2004, does not conflict with the league’s schedule because the games were played during training camp and early pre-season games.
Playing hockey in late September, however, is not an ideal time to draw TV viewers in the US, in part because of interest in the NFL, college football and baseball.
Game 1 with Canada and Team Europe in the World Cup finals on Tuesday night — without direct competition from football — drew 494,000 viewers on ESPN, then only 296,000 watched Game 2 on Thursday. In Canada, Game 2 had an average audience of 2.27 million viewers on Sportsnet.
Daly acknowledged it was a “challenge,” to engage Americans enough to watch the event. It did not help that the US and North American Under 23-teams did not make it to the semi-finals of the eight-team tournament.
It was also, surprisingly, difficult to fill seats at the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite being in hockey hotbed, even though the league said ticket sales went very well. It seemed many more people were interested in attending Toronto Blue Jays games when world-class hockey matchups and playoff-push baseball games were played at the same time.
The level of hockey, at times, was impressive. And, the atmosphere was electric when Canada rallied from a one-goal deficit in the final few minutes Thursday night to beat Europe 2-1.
During many stretches of play, however, the World Cup of Hockey did not do enough to fire up fans in attendance.
Days before Canada beat Europe 2-0 in the best-of-three series to win the World Cup, Canadian coach Mike Babcock seemed to sum up the situation best.
“The World Cup is great. It’s not the Olympics,” Babcock said in an unsolicited comparison of the two events. “Let’s not get confused.”
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very