“Whose anthem will they play if they win the tournament? That’s what I want to know,” Canada’s Steven Stamkos wondered months ago about World Cup of Hockey mashup teams North America and Europe.
And we’re still wondering today.
Unlike the eight participating teams’ sweaters, logos and core rosters, which are being unveiled Wednesday, the “national” anthems of the two hybrid clubs remain a mystery.
The tournament’s anthem policy, however, is another story.
"There will be no anthems pre-game," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Hockey Central at Noon Wednesday.
"We're not going to play anthems after every game. We're only going to play anthems when something is won from a tournament perspective. In that context, we are working on potential anthems for the two select teams."
This raises a few questions.
How do you not play "O Canada" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Air Canada Centre before the Canada-USA match? No rollout of the giant flag? No slow pan of Patrick Kane's and Sidney Crosby's faces? No P.K. Subban dancing in place on the blue-line?
There is a missed opportunity for emotional gravitas and patriotic string-pulls here that should be reconsidered before September.
Also: Is it possible there will be no North American and Team Europe anthems chosen?
Those two clubs are serious underdogs to win even bronze up against Canada, the U.S., Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic. If an anthem is never played, did it even exist?
Should the under-24 unit pull off a medal victory, just play both the American and Canadian anthems. Who cares? Both countries should celebrate to a familiar jam.
And if Team Europe somehow manages a top-three finish, well, maybe stunned silence is the appropriate soundtrack.
Alternatively, this Europe anthem never fails.
More World Cup, Olympic questions answered (sort of)
What will the winners hoist? The 2016 World Cup's trophy will be "kind of a variation," Daly says, of the prize awarded in 2004, the one designed by renowned Toronto architect Frank Gehry.
When will the rosters be fleshed out? June 1. Probably. With the initial 16-man rosters announced Wednesday, Daly said to circle June 1 as the day we'll find out who will occupy the nations' remaining seven spots: Jaromir Jagr? John Klingberg? Ilya Kovalchuk?
Daly notes that the June 1 date is not firm and could change slightly based on the Stanley Cup Final schedule.
Will the World Cup sweaters feature ads? It's still a possibility. The NHL said it wouldn't be the first to slap ads on jerseys, and the NBA stitched Kia logos onto its 2016 All-Star Game outfits. Daly leaves the door open.
More World Cups on the way? Yes. Daly and NHLPA chief Don Fehr confirm there will multiple World Cup tournaments to follow. Once every four years. So the next one will be held September 2020. The hope is for cities to bid for hosting duties. "It's really going to take its place on the sports calendar," Fehr says.
Anything new on the NHL's participation in the 2018 Winter Games? Not really. The league and the IIHF last met in late October, when the organizations discussed participation in both the Pyeongchang and Beijing games. It's believed that the NHL is leaning towards a both-or-nothing commitment, with Beijing being the more desirable event.
As was the case in Sochi, travel and insurance costs will be obstacles here.
"To be quite frank, they [the IIHF] were left with some homework in terms of their dealings with the IOC and the South Korean organizing committee. I know they're working on that. We've received periodic updates," Daly said. "It's really a wait-and-see at this point."
The idea of holding the 2018 hockey tournament in Seoul, more than four hours away from Peyongchang, was raised during the NHL-IIHF talks, but Daly said that notion was not getting "serious consideration" at this point.