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World Cup format remains undecided

1/8/2015

The NHL has been hoping to be in a position to announce official details for the return of the World Cup of Hockey in Columbus, Ohio, for All-Star weekend later this month.

That still could be the case, but it’s not for sure. Sources say it will depend on how it takes to iron out the remaining issues.

The NHL, NHLPA and IIHF have a conference call Tuesday in which it is hoped whatever issues that remain with the IIHF will be resolved.

Then, the league and players’ association still have to hammer out final details, including the format.

The controversial idea of replacing Switzerland and Slovakia in the tournament with a rest-of-Europe all-star team and a North American "young guns" team remains the most likely format, although a source suggested Thursday it’s still not 100 percent. That’s part of what remains to be discussed between the NHL and NHLPA.

For the record, IIHF president Rene Fasel is supportive of the idea; there’s no pushback from him on it.

USA Hockey, it is believed, is not so keen on the young guns idea, but when push comes to shove, I'm not sure that’s going to be a deal-breaker.

Keep in mind that, if indeed this idea sees the light of day when the World Cup returns in September 2016 in Toronto, it doesn’t mean it’s a permanent idea for future World Cups. In fact, the sense right now is that it would be a one-off, in all probability.

The Young Guns entry does have an appealing aspect to it: It might give USA Hockey and Hockey Canada a glimpse into how their top young players perform in a best-on-best format, which could prove useful if for some reason the Olympic format also changes for 2018 and the tournament becomes an under-23 affair, as some have speculated. Nothing has been decided yet regarding the Olympics and the NHL, either way.

If you ask me -- and, strangely enough, nobody involved at the NHL or NHLPA has asked -- instead of the North American Young Guns entry for the World Cup, I would prefer seeing Hockey Canada simply ice two senior entries. I mean, the first thing we do when Canada names its Olympic team is look at what the B-team would look like. And we marvel at how good that team looks on paper.

I think it would add some serious spice to the World Cup if Canada had two senior teams. Talk about stroking the egos of Canadian hockey fans if both Canadian teams reached the final.