Right off the bat, let me just say that I was reticent about the return of the World Cup of Hockey.
At first, it didn’t seem necessary to add another international tournament in addition to the Olympics and the annual World Hockey Championship. It also meant less time off for players, especially those who played into June. On the flipside, though, it was a great way for the NHL to make money, gain a more unique following and also a good way to get those chosen to represent their countries – or continents – to get in some conditioning – and what better way of doing that than actually playing?
Jeff Duarte of CaliSportsNews, a friend and colleague of Make Way for the Kings, was live in Toronto for the entirety of the World Cup and he had a wonderful time from start to finish. From on-ice quality to meeting a plethora of truly patriotic fans to even seeing members of his hometown Los Angeles Kings pair up with players from heated rivals – Anaheim’s Corey Perry and San Jose’s trio of Thornton, Burns and Couture immediately come to mind – the 12-year wait for the World Cup was truly worth it.
To read Jeff Duarte’s “LA Kings Influence Canada’s World Cup Victory”, click here.
From just the Kings content, it was a successful tournament for most. Unfortunately for Jonathan Quick, his Team USA fizzled out quickly – although it was no fault of the Kings’ star netminder. Four more Kings, though, met in the Best-of-Three final, although only two – Canada’s Drew Doughty and Europe’s Anze Kopitar – suited up as they were opponents in a somewhat haunting scene for Kings fans.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin also represented Canada, although he spent the majority of the tournament as a healthy scratch. Also, unfortunately – and with this risk falling in the minus category of any tournament – Kings forward Marian Gaborik, who represented Europe, succumbed to injury in his team’s semi-final victory over Sweden. Gaborik is now sidelined for the next eight weeks, which has certainly raised the ire of many Kings fans.
In the final, while some viewed the series as a mismatch on paper in favour of the host country, Europe fought hard and certainly made the Canadian squad earn every inch. But while the European side had plenty of established talent in Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa, they were led by their captain Anze Kopitar who, while he didn’t score any goals, helped out with four assists in addition to his exceptional leadership skills – skills that will become more prevalent in Los Angeles this season – in lifting his team, the proverbial dark horse, to the World Cup final.
Unfortunately for the Europeans, they were swept in the Best-of-Three final, but every member of that team ought to feel proud for what they accomplished.
For Canada, this is their second World Cup win – sixth if you include the Canada Cup – and for Drew Doughty, he adds the prestigious trophy to his already-impressive resume. It really is hard to believe that he is still only 26.
But for Doughty, Muzzin and Kopitar – in addition to the rest of the participants – they are now back with their respective NHL clubs with their focus now shifted on the 2016-17 season. For the former three, they return to the Kings in time for their team’s final Frozen Fury exhibition before the regular season begins: the club’s 50th.
Overall, it was a great tournament but now it’s time for the NHL season to begin.
*Special thanks and courtesy to Jeff Duarte who shot the above videos and who wrote the articles attached.