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World Cup: players insist on Russia’s presence

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had an international field hockey competition in which NHLers have taken part. In fact, if we exclude the World Championships (often shunned by the stars or presented during the NHL playoffs), we have to go back to 2016, when we were treated to the World Cup of Hockey, won by Team Canada.

For those of you who don’t remember, it was a tournament with Team Europe and Team North America (with players aged 23 and under).

In short, it’s been a long time, and since these tournaments are so much appreciated by players and fans alike, many people are hoping they’ll come back as soon as possible.

And today, Richard Labbé was on BPM Sports, where he took the opportunity to explain that, from what he’s been told, the tournament isn’t taking place at the moment because the players want Russia to be there.

According to Labbé, who spoke to the Players’ Association, it’s unanimous over there.

Quite honestly, we can understand the players: would it really be an international competition where the best play against the best if guys like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Kirill Kaprizov, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy (among others) weren’t there?

Clearly not.

So we may have to wait until the end of the conflict in Ukraine before we have a new World Cup (or a new tournament featuring the best players from each country). Of course, there are many reasons (mainly human) why we want the conflict to end before it does, but this is one of them.

But as time goes by, the chances of guys like Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby facing each other on the international stage are diminishing. Even a guy like Connor McDavid, already 26 years old, has never had the chance to do it yet, and even though he’s been dreaming of it for years, he’s currently wasting good years to take part in a tournament of this kind.

In baseball, the World Classic captured the attention of a ton of fans earlier this year, as the tournament ended following a clash between the world’s two best players (who are teammates in MLB, by the way) in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.

And it’s a shame the NHL isn’t in a position to allow its athletes to give us historic moments like this. Even McDavid knows that.

I really hope that one way or another, we’ll have the opportunity to have a tournament on the international stage pitting the best field hockey players in the world against each other. It makes for great moments, and yet the most recent edition is so far away that you’d probably forgotten that Jaroslav Halak was the goalkeeper for Team Europe, which reached the final against Carey Price and Team Canada.

We’ll keep an eye on it, but in the short term, the chances seem pretty slim.

And that’s a real shame, both for the players and for the fans.

In Brief

– Our colleague Maxime Truman looks back at what we told you this morning.

– I’d go with “Minus”, personally.

– Alex Chiasson takes stock of his career and talks a bit about Lane Hutson, whom he’s rubbing shoulders with at Boston University this summer. [La Presse]

– None. Good. Sense.

– Attention all interested parties.

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