Maple Leafs boss Brian Burke wants to see the long-dormant World Cup of Hockey played every two years as an alternative to the tedious IIHF world hockey championship contested each May while the Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing.
Burke will make his pitch during next week’s Molson Hockey Summit in Toronto.
The World Cup, last played in 2004, makes a comeback in 2011 but there are no plans beyond that for the tournament which grew out of the old Canada Cup.
In an opinion piece published in yesterday’s Montreal Gazette, Burke complained that the NHL and its players are barely compensated for their participation in the annual IIHF world championship as well as the Winter Olympics.
“The National Hockey League currently sends its players to these two international tournaments, but receives no compensation for doing so,” Burke wrote.
“Each NHL team shuts down their business for close to three weeks while the Olympic Games are played. In return, fans, management and owners are often rewarded with tired or broken players on their return from Olympic competition.
“And it’s not fair that the athletes themselves are not compensated for their participation. They run the risk of injury in international tournaments, which can threaten their NHL livelihood.”
Burke also thinks it unfair that the IIHF and International Olympic Committee pocket most of the proceeds.
“Basically, athletes and leagues are not paid or protected for their participation in either tournament while the tournaments themselves make millions,” he continued.
Burke, a former player agent who also was the NHL’s No. 2 man behind Gary Bettman from 1993-98, thinks playing more World Cups is part of the solution.
“NHL owners will not shut down their businesses mid-season, teams, fans and players do not have to shoulder in-season injury risks and post-tournament slumps and players can earn some additional income and use the tournament to prepare for the upcoming season,” Burke argued.