It was impossible not to feel patriotic after watching Canada win gold at the World Junior Championships in a 4-3 thriller against Russia on Sunday afternoon. The dramatic third period comeback and ensuing gold confetti shower had NHL greats reminiscing about their glory years wearing the crest at the international level.
This is a feeling Connor McDavid wishes he had the opportunity to have once again.
Connor McDavid excited by world junior final: "Anytime you get a chance to represent Canada on a best-on-best tournament, it's always so special and makes for the best hockey. So I definitely hope that I get that opportunity one day." (cc: NHL, NHLPA, IIHF, IOC)— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 6, 2020
McDavid represented Canada at the U-18 World Championships in 2013, the World Junior Championships in 2014 and 2015, and the World Championships in 2016 and 2018. In five national appearances, McDavid has been a member of three gold medal-winning teams, one at each level.
He’s also captained Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey in 2015.
A few Canadian World Junior alumni spoke to the media before Monday’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s evident that representing Canada at the world stage still means a lot to the players, and the country as a whole.
a trio of Canadian junior legends are still fired up over that WJC gold pic.twitter.com/8jbSmh4VwY— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) January 6, 2020
However, the NHL’s stance on best-on-best international tournaments has yet to shift in favour of what fans and players want. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman ruled out the possibility of a World Cup of Hockey in 2021 back in December, opting to host an All-Star Game instead.
Bettman says there will not be a World Cup of Hockey in February 2021. Perhaps an international-style event in place of a regular all star game, which still needs to be negotiated with the NHLPA. But as far a full blown World Cup, it won’t be next year.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 10, 2019
It’s frustrating ignorance on the NHL’s part not to halt their schedule to allow for international games, dating all the way back to the NHL’s first inclusion in the 1998 Olympic Games.
The NHL is keen on growing the game internationally, hosting annual Global Series games abroad in Europe and Asia, but took a massive step back when they did not allow athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games for the first time since the Nagano Olympics in 1998.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is still a looming question mark. Fans and players can only hope that the NHL and IIHF can finally work through their issues to allow for these iconic international sporting events to continue.
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