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NHL to hold 4 Nations Face-Off tournament in 2025 instead of All Star game

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TORONTO — On Friday during the NHL All Star festivities, the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, along with some of the All Stars, announced that next year’s event will be decidedly different. In fact it won’t be an All Star game at all. Instead, next year there will be a 4 Nations Face-Off tournament featuring Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden.

That’s right Connor McDavid, who has been a large driving force in getting more international play, is getting his opportunity to represent Canada in a best-on-best four nations tournament.

“Just the opportunity to do that is a dream come true,” McDavid said Friday. “I’ve been vocal about this and I feel that it’s important for hockey as we continue to try and grow our game internationally and at home.”

McDavid, 27, last represented his country at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark where Canada finished fourth. He has not been a part of a best-on-best tournament since playing with Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

The in-season 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off will consist of a total of seven games played during a nine-day period from Feb. 12-20, along with two practice days, Feb. 10-11, and will be held in two yet-to-be named North American cities, one in Canada and one in the United States.

McDavid was on the stage along with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, representing the United States, Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho, representing Finland, and Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, representing Sweden when NHL Players’ Association executive director Marty Walsh and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement prior to the 2024 NHL Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook at Scotiabank Arena, the host venue for the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend.

https://twitter.com/NHL/status/1753491430872318144

The Commissioner also announced the NHL will return to Olympic participation, starting in 2026 in Milan, Italy, and again in 2030, with the host for the 2030 Olympics expected to be chosen later this year by the International Olympic Committee.

The League previously shut down for about two weeks to allow players to compete in the Olympics in 1998 (Nagano, Japan), 2002 (Salt Lake City), 2006 (Turin, Italy), 2010 (Vancouver) and 2014 (Sochi, Russia). NHL players did not participate in the 2018 or 2022 Olympics.

“Our intention in terms of an international calendar is to go to the Olympics in 2026, two years later play the World Cup, and two years after that go to the Olympics in 2030, and two years after that play a World Cup,” Bettman said. “That’s the cycle we want to get on.”

Bettman said the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-off is a “bit of an appetizer,” for the upcoming Olympics and subsequent World Cup tournament.

McDavid has led the charge trying to get NHL players back on the international stage in a best-on-best format. The World Championship is held annually at the same time as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, preventing top players from various countries from participating.

Commissioner Bettman on 4 Nations Face-Off tournament between U.S., Canada, Sweden, Finland

“I think it’s a great thing, an exciting schedule, something people can look forward to every two years, every second year,” McDavid said. “I know it’s something the four of us [on stage] are super pumped about.”

Each team at the 4 Nations Face-Off will be comprised of 23 NHL players (20 skaters, three goalies) selected by each National Association: Hockey Canada, Finnish Ice Hockey Association, Swedish Ice Hockey Association and USA Hockey.

Players must be under an NHL contract for the 2024-25 season and on an NHL roster as of Dec. 2, 2024. All roster announcement dates will be made by the NHL and NHLPA, with each of the participating National Associations selecting its initial six players this summer, prior to selecting its complete roster later in the year.

“We view this event as a building block to a larger World Cup, an important tournament to the players,” Walsh said. “These guys on this stage, every one of them either talked to me or Ron [Hainsey, NHLPA assistant executive director], personally saying, ‘We want to get international hockey back in the NHL,’ and with this series, we have an amazing opportunity.”

All games in the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off will be played in accordance with NHL rules on NHL-sized rinks. Each team will play three tournament games in a traditional round-robin format, with teams earning three points for a win in regulation, two points for a win in overtime or a shootout, one point for a loss in overtime or a shootout, and no points for a loss in regulation.

The two teams with the best record will advance to a one-game final. The overtime format for round-robin games will be 3-on-3 sudden death for a 10-minute period, followed by a three-round shootout. The overtime format for the one-game final will be full strength sudden death through successive 20-minute periods until one team scores.

As a result of the tournament, the NHL will not hold an All-Star Game next season.

“The 4 Nations [Face-Off] is going to be exciting for the teams that are going to be competing and I can’t wait,” McDavid said.

The NHL hasn’t been part of an international competition since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which was played at Scotiabank Arena [then called Air Canada Centre] and won by Team Canada.

“It means a lot, obviously, at any level to represent your country. It’s a big honor,” Matthews said. “At a world stage like the Olympics or 4 Nations [Face-Off], competing against the players and their respective countries, I think it’ll be great for the players and great for the sport and the fans. I think we’ll really enjoy it.”

SOURCE NHL.com, Derek Van Diest @DerekVanDiest 

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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