Report: NHL, NHLPA working on international competition for 2025, return to Olympics

Team Canada's Sidney Crosby (87) hoists the trophy following his team's victory over Team Europe during World Cup of Hockey finals action in Toronto on Thursday, September 29, 2016. (Nathan Denette/CP)

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association are working to create an international competition to be held in February 2025, reported Wednesday.

The league and PA intend to begin a regular rotation of Olympic participation and a World Cup of Hockey in the even years, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said during the European player media tour on Wednesday.

“So, if we do a ’25 international tournament, we do the ’26 Olympics, the ’28 World Cup of Hockey, the ’30 Olympics, the ’32 World Cup of Hockey, and so on,” Daly said. “That’s the goal.”

The last World Cup of Hockey was held in 2016, when Canada beat Team Europe in Toronto. NHL players did not participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics or 2022 Beijing Olympics after going to the Olympics in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

The 2026 Winter Olympics are scheduled to be held in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Daly said the league is still determining the format of the tournament.

“I don’t know exactly what form it will take,” Daly said. “The goal is to make it an international competition of some sort. It’s going to obviously be heavily NHL-centric in terms of the player base, maybe entirely NHL. We’ll see what form it takes, but that’s something we’re working on with the players’ association.”

What remains unclear is the participation of Russian players because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“We have had a fairly recent meeting with the IIHF and the IOC (where) we talked about Olympic participation in 2026 and, as part of that, what the World Cup would look like on a regular basis,” Daly said. “We continue to be challenged by the short-term political realities, what’s going on in Russia and Ukraine, and what kind of role can Russia play both in an international tournament that we may sponsor or in the Olympic games. That continues to be an unknown that we’re all trying to navigate around and through, and that certainly affects the World Cup property.”

Daly said a deadline has not been set for the NHL and NHLPA for a decision about an international competition in February 2025, or future participation in the Olympics and the creation of a recurring World Cup of Hockey. but the goal is to “strive to do it as quickly as we can.”

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