The National Hockey League and NHL Players Association today announced that the World Cup Of Hockey, which was being planned to return in February 2024, would be delayed until at least 2025, if not potentially longer.
The official statement from the NHL noted “unfortunately, in the current environment it is not feasible to hold the World Cup of Hockey at that time,” with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly all but admitting previously that the main reason for the delay was around the potential participation of Russia, which has been banned from IIHF competition since their invasion of Russia on 24 February, as well as had all partnership with the NHL ceased.
The NHL, which runs the tournament but in doing so with partnership of the IIHF and its member committees, uses the best-on-best tournament to highlight its top stars, so surely the thought of not being able to see the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Andrei Vasilevski and Artemi Panarin featured was of massive concern. However, many national associations, such as Finland and Czechia, have vowed to not compete against Russian teams, who are well known to be touted and propagandized by the Putin regime.
Whether much will change geopolitically in just one year, from February 2024 to 2025, remains to be unseen, but whether national teams will still want to engage with the Russians even if a ceasefire is agreed to, or the Ukrainian invasion ends, still is a major question mark not just for the World Cup (which will now have at least a nine-year gap between the last tournament in 2016), but the World Championships, Olympics, and other hockey and non-hockey tournaments alike.