The NHL will be holding its own international tournament in February 2025 and the format will be featuring four national teams, according to a report from ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. The proposed format would feature national teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden.
The NHL and NHL Players Association have been working to set up the next World Cup of Hockey tournament for several years, though this new tournament would be smaller in scale. According to Wyshynski, this 2025 event would fall under a different name and the league simply wants to hold some form of international tournament prior to the 2026 Winter Olympics.
“We’re hopeful to have an international tournament in February 2025,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said during the Global Series in Sweden last week. “We’re working with the players’ association on the construct of that. Then, after that, we would like to be in a regular rotation between the Olympics and the World Cup every other year. That obviously involves us having an agreement to go to Milan [in 2026], and that is still a work in progress.”
The league is attempting to relaunch the World Cup of Hockey tournament in 2028 and hold the event every four years in between Olympic tournaments.
One of the biggest issues remains with how Russian-born players would be integrated into the tournament due to the backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The International Ice Hockey Federation previously banned Russia and Belarus from competing in international tournaments through 2024. On top of that, the NHL ended all sponsorship deals with Russia following the invasion.
It’s possible that Russian players could participate under a neutral name and flag, but wouldn’t represent Russia. In this current format for a four-nation tournament, Russian players wouldn’t be competing.
Under the expected four-nation format, the United States and Canada would play two games in North America, while Finland and Sweden would face off in two games in one of those two nations. The winners of those respective matchups would face off with the second-best team from the other matchup. The winners of those semifinal games would meet for the tournament championship.
The tournament will take place over the course of a week with the NHL pausing in-season games for the duration of the tournament.
It’s worth noting that the NHL hasn’t competed in a national team tournament since the 2014 Winter Olympics. Canada defeated Sweden 3-0 to win the gold medal game in Sochi thanks to goals from Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Chris Kunitz.