Next month’s World Cup of Hockey will begin with some exhibitions
The World Cup of Hockey returns to the sport for the third time ever next month, starting Sept. 17 in Toronto. The previous versions, in 1996 and 2004, were won by the United States and Canada, respectively.
Who will win this year’s version? We may get a good idea before the actual tournament starts, as we’ll be seeing some exhibition games prior to the event. The exhibition schedule was released today and features 12 games over six days between Sept. 8 and Sept. 14.
Here’s the exhibition schedule (all times Central):
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Thursday, Sept. 8
Sweden vs. Finland (at Helsinki, Finland), 11 a.m. (ESPN3)
Czech Republic vs. Russia (at St. Petersburg, Russia), 11:30 a.m. (ESPN3)
North America vs. Europe (at Quebec City, Quebec), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Friday, Sept. 9
Canada vs. United States (at Columbus, Ohio), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Saturday, Sept. 10
Russia vs. Czech Republic (at Prague, Czech Republic), 9:30 a.m. (ESPN3)
Finland vs. Sweden (at Gothenburg, Sweden), 11 a.m. (ESPN3)
United States vs. Canada (at Ottawa, Canada), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sunday, Sept. 11
Europe vs. North America (at Montreal, Canada), 5 p.m. (ESPN3)
Tuesday, Sept. 13
Finland vs. United States (at Washington, D.C.), 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, Sept. 14
Czech Republic vs. North America (at Pittsburgh, Pa.), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sweden vs. Europe (at Washington, D.C.), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Russia vs. Canada (at Pittsburgh, Pa.), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
So every team gets three exhibitions in a relatively short period of time, which should have guys ready to go when the actual tournament starts. There are also plenty of interesting matchups here, starting with constantly solid Sweden and Finland and including two U.S.-Canada tilts.
Most of these games are only available on the Internet, with four of them appearing on TV. The U.S. and North America teams will be featured in three of those four national telecasts.
I think it’s pretty cool that these exhibitions are taking place outside of Toronto, giving other arenas some good hockey ahead of this tournament and the NHL season. It’s especially cool that some of the games are being played overseas, instead of just forcing the European teams to play in the United States or Canada early on.
It will be interesting to see who ESPN puts on the call for each of these games. Doc Emrick works for NBC, so it’s highly unlikely he’d be involved. Same for most of the other guys we often hear on NBC or NBCSN (although that probably won’t stop Pierre McGuire from showing up somewhere).
ESPN isn’t known for its hockey coverage, but it does have some guys who are fans of the sport, John Buccigross and Steve Levy being the first to come to mind. Unfortunately, Barry Melrose is probably also going to be involved.
As a reminder, 11 Chicago Blackhawks players are competing in the tournament. Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are on Team Canada, Patrick Kane is on Team USA, Marian Hossa is on Team Europe, Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson are on Team Sweden, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are on Team Russia, Michal Kempny is on Team Czech Republic and prospect Ville Pokka is on Team Finland. Also, recently-former Blackhawks Christian Ehrhoff (Team Europe) and Teuvo Teravainen (Team Finland) are involved.