An NHL-run World Cup of Hockey could generate $100 million in revenue for the league and its players, reports Abraham D. Madkour of Sports Business Daily.
The NHL has been discussing the possibility of reviving the event the past several years. According to the report, a World Cup could be put on as soon as in 2016, likely in Toronto.
The tournament has been held twice before, in 1996 and 2004. Each time it was played in multiple cities across the globe, but the NHL is reportedly focused on holding the next World Cup, if it happens, in one city due to the resulting revenue potential.
While NHL players participate in the Olympics every four years, with the league cooperating by taking an Olympic break, those tournaments are run by the IHF, meaning the NHL is shut out of revenue and marketing opportunities.
[NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman summed up the appeal [of a World Cup] succinctly: “We control it. We control the media, the presentation and it’s out of season.” All of those are underlying frustrations that the league has with its participation in the Olympics.
“They [sponsors] get to market and promote their association with the Games,” he said. “We have to fight to get access to footage of our players playing in the Olympics. At one time, we even had to fight to get access to a press availability I was having. They’ve loosened it up a little bit, but face it, if you’re a TOP sponsor, you get to market and promote your brand. We don’t.”
If the World Cup is revived, it's unknown whether the NHL would continue sending players to the Olympics.
With the 2018 Games set to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2022 Games in either Almaty, Kazakhstan, or Beijing, the report says there is "little appeal" for the NHL to participate in the next two Olympics.
The NHL began participating in the Olympics in 1998 at the Nagano Games. Canada won the gold medal at this year's Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
- Phil Watson