Two great hockey rivalries will take place during the round robin stage of the 2016 World Cup, while the final could set up to be another battle between Canada and Russia.
According to SovSport.ru’s Igor Eronko, Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak has revealed the groups for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. Tretiak says that at the upcoming tournament, one group will be comprised of Canada, USA, Czech Republic and Team Europe, while the other will feature Russia, Sweden, Finland and Team North America, the “young stars” team that has been talked about.
The groups for the World Cup are a slight departure from those that have been established for the 2016 World Championship, with Finland and the Czech Republic switching places to allow for national rivalries to potentially be played twice instead of once. By moving Finland to a group with Sweden, it sets up for there to be at least one game between the two sides, while the other group will offer Canada against USA at least once in the tournament.
With the potential for the tournament to draw huge TV ratings – it will be broadcast in the United States across ESPN’s network – making sure two major international rivalries will take place during the tournament allows for a boost in the ratings. In addition, by putting Russia and Canada/USA in alternate groups sets up for a potential final that would pit a North American club against the rival Russians.
As the tournament approaches, it will be interesting to see what the playoff format is, as well. If each placing, first through eighth, is decided by a game, it could set up for the two gimmick squads to square off in the playoff round of the tournament. The European squad, which will be comprised of players from nations such as Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Denmark and Slovenia (looking at you, Anze Kopitar), against a team full of up-and-comers from North America would be one that could potentially draw a big audience.
Squads for the World Cup will begin to be named on March 1, 2016, when teams must submit a list of 16 players, including goaltenders for the tournament. The final roster must be decided by June 1, 2016.
The World Cup is set to begin in Toronto in September 2016.