World Cup has a way to go to reclaim stature

Fri Sep 30, 2016 5:29pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada may have captured the World Cup of Hockey in dramatic fashion this week on home soil but the tournament failed to generate much buzz and will need time to reclaim the stature it once enjoyed.

The tournament, held for the first time in 12 years, came to a wild but predictable finish on Thursday when powerhouse Canada rallied late for a 2-1 victory over Team Europe to finish with a perfect 6-0 record.

But a mostly tepid atmosphere at games during a tournament in the center of the hockey universe was a blunt reminder that pitting the world's best players against one another outside of the Olympics is not a guaranteed recipe for success.

With the National Hockey League and its players' association undecided about future Olympic participation, the two parties opted to re-boot the World Cup of Hockey, a two-week event that reportedly generated about $130 million in revenue.

But many dismissed the eight-team tournament as a cash grab and one that lacked the authenticity of World Cups in other sports given its irregular appearance on the sporting schedule, lack of qualifying system and a pair of gimmicky teams.

The NHL even scrapped a World Cup viewing party outside the arena hosting the final on Thursday, citing inclement weather, after only a handful of fans had gathered for the event two nights earlier.

SPEEDY SQUAD   Continued...

Team Canada players celebrate on the ice after defeating Team Europe 2-1 in game two of the World Cup of Hockey final to win the tournament at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports