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The NHL Continues To Fail Miserably At Just Putting On A Simple International Tournament That Everybody Would Love

Minas Panagiotakis. Getty Images.

When is the last time the NHL did something that was universally loved by all fans? No complaints, no bitching, just the fans all watching and saying to themselves, "this shit rocks". 

You'd probably have to go all the way back to the original Winter Classic. That game ruled so hard. And there have definitely been some special Winter Classics since then, but the NHL saw how much everybody loved that game and decided to ram outdoor games down our throats for the next 15 years. So much so that we don't even know when the next outdoor game is going to randomly pop up on the schedule. Apparently there was one on October 29th. Could have fooled me. 

Either way, the point I'm trying to make here is that the NHL could probably use and idea or event to get everybody back on their side again. And they have the perfect opportunity just sitting there right in front of them. All they have to do is put on a best-on-best international hockey tournament. The world is starved for best-on-best international hockey, and we haven't gotten a real taste of it since 2014. If the NHL put on an actual World Cup of Hockey featuring 8 or so nations, fandom would explode. You put it on ESPN and TNT and people will go nuts for that shit. 

For a while, it seemed like maybe the NHL understood that idea and were going to make it happen. But in true NHL fashion, they've managed to find a way to fuck it up. And now they're just planning to go with a 4-nation tournament in 2025. 

ESPN -- The NHL's international hockey tournament scheduled for February 2025 will be scaled back to just four national teams, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The proposed event would feature national teams from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Finland.

The NHL and NHLPA have been attempting to stage the next World Cup of Hockey tournament since it was revived in 2016 as a preseason event in Toronto. Sources said that due to its limited scope the 2025 event would be called something other than the World Cup of Hockey, and that the mission for both the NHL and the NHLPA was to simply stage some kind of international tournament ahead of the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Giphy Images.

If these idiots just put on an actual international tournament and the medal round ended up being USA, Canada, Sweden, and Finland, then that would rule. But an international tournament with just those 4 teams? Who gives a fuck?

Obviously the biggest team missing here would be Russia. And while I don't want to get too political over here, I just don't get it. Are we just never going to let these athletes compete ever again due to shit that is totally beyond their control? It's insanity. And do you think the political climate and tensions were any better in 1980? No chance. We were in the middle of a Cold War, but the Soviets were still able to compete at the Olympics in Lake Placid. And that's what made beating them so special. There would be no Miracle On Ice if the people in charge back then were so concerned with buying themselves social justice points. 

But even outside of just Russia not competing, you still need teams like Slovakia and the Czech Republic and Germany. Leon Draisaitl is one of the top 10 hockey players on the entire planet. You can't have him either A) not playing in this tournament at all, or B) playing for some made up Team Europe. Because as much as the Team Europe and Team North America U23 were…fine…in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the NHL could only use that card once. Those teams were fun for one tournament, but they lack any sort of context. Nobody is going around rooting for Team North America. There's no historical significance for USA beating Team Europe. Would a European All Star Team maybe put up a better fight in a tournament like this than a nation like Slovenia? Sure. But that's not what the people want. 

And that's what the NHL doesn't understand. It's about USA beating Germany and then we can all make our World War Champs jokes. It's about one of the smaller nations pulling off an upset over one of the big 5 countries after getting pummeled 7-1 the game before. It's about giving all these guys the opportunity to put their country's flag across their chest and figure out who the best in the world truly is. You can make excuses about political climate. You can make excuses about global pandemics. All the NHL has to do is just make it happen, but they flat out refuse.