Lack of NHL support expected to doom '08 World Cup

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

TURIN -- The NHL's stay on the world stage is on thin ice.

Not only is the NHL noncommittal toward the Olympics beyond 2010, it's doubtful there'll be a World Cup in 2008 because the players don't want it.

Though the NHL Players' Association is willing to negotiate, executive director Ted Saskin isn't optimistic a World Cup will take place.

"There are a lot of logistics involved. At this point, I would say it's very doubtful (for 2008)," Saskin said yesterday at a news conference with NHL vice-president Bill Daly and IIHF president Rene Fasel.

"We are talking about coming back again, but we have a very rigorous 82-game (NHL) schedule,'' Saskin said. ''We'd like to participate, but we feel quite frankly that every two years is too much for these events."

That gave Daly a chance to point the finger at the players.

"It's a great tournament when we have it," Daly said. "Speaking for the NHL clubs, we would like to have another World Cup tournament and make it a regular event. But, obviously, we need the player participation agreement on that point."

NHL/NHLPA EVENT

The World Cup of Hockey, formerly known as the Canada Cup, is an NHL/NHLPA event. The original concept was to feature the top players because NHLers couldn't play in the Olympics.

But the tournament has only been run once, in September 2004, since the NHL began participating in the Winter Games in 1998 at Nagano.

Meanwhile, Fasel said there will be changes to the women's Olympic tournament before the 2010 Vancouver Games. Host teams will have to qualify and only squads from the Top 10 will be allowed to compete.

Fasel also said the goal-differential tiebreaker will be removed so blowouts such as Canada's 16-0 win over Italy are minimized. He said the International Olympic Committee still supports women's hockey.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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