Three key takeaways from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey
The World Cup of Hockey has come and gone with, quite honestly, not much of a stir in the hockey world.
Maybe it was the fact that it took place in September, or maybe it was the two odd teams (North America and Europe) that threw it for a loop, but the World Cup was just flat out not as exciting as the Olympics are. Three key takeaways can be made from the tournament.
#1: The USA needs a change in guard
The United States came and went in the tournament without a win. A management group headed by Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella put together a group of players based on grit rather than skill.
“If you want to go head-to-head and play a skill game, your odds of winning that game when you look at those matchups is not very good.”
-Dean Lombardi on Team USA facing Team Canada
It’s fairly evident that the United States needs a change up front, which goes hand in hand with a change on the ice.
The players Team USA picked were flat out wrong. The game of hockey is continuing its slow transition to a skill game, and the roster the Americans put together had no chance keeping up with Canada, North America, or arguably anyone else in the tournament.
Whenever the next major hockey tournament the United States plays in is, Olympics or World Cup, this year’s team should be exhibit number one as to why a new set of management and players needs to be used.
#2: The future is bright for hockey
To be fair for the United States, a lot of key, young options were taken from them by the under-23 North American team.
The likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, and Auston Matthews, among others, were unable to play for the United States. Whether or not they would have if they were eligible to is up for debate.
There is no question that the combination of the young Canadians and aforementioned Americans was thrilling to watch. The tournament took a big hit when they were eliminated in favor of Russia.
The North American team exemplified what the future of hockey holds: fast, skilled, and passionate gameplay. These players, combined with those from Finland, Sweden, and other countries throughout the world, prove that hockey will be fun to watch for many decades.
I do not think that there is a doubt that Team North America will exist again in the next World Cup. There’s no doubt, either, that they’ll have plenty of supporters too.
#3: The World Cup of Hockey still needs a lot of work
As it got put before, the World Cup did not live up to all of its hype.
ESPN did a good job at making most games accessible to watch, but the commentating and analysis got rough at times. More experienced additions to the staff may be a good idea next time around.
The venue wasn’t bad, but you could just tell the atmosphere wasn’t up to par. Team Europe moving on didn’t help that. It did get rowdy near the end once Canada tied it and eventually won it in the finals, but that’s to be expected.
The World Cup does have potential, but may never exceed the intensity that the Olympics provide. The two tournaments are just not on the same level.
The NHL has a lot of time to work most of these kinks out. The game has changed a lot since the last World Cup of Hockey in 2004, and it will surely change a lot before the next one in 2020. The challenge the league faces is adapting to that and making the games as intense as possible, which sadly was not the case this year.