NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t think participating in the Olympics helps the NHL. I agree. Click HERE to read why.

If the NHL doesn’t send players to PyeongChang next February, the fallout will be massive. Rogue players will jump their NHL teams and try to play. How will the IIHF, Olympics and NHL deal with that?

But, moving forward, the most important thing the NHL can do is present the World Cup of Hockey as a legit alternative to the Olympic tournament.

This past September’s World Cup was OK. But a few things need fixed.

Contest the World Cup every four years, just like the Olympics. It needs to be on a regular schedule.

The World Cup needs to be a true international tournament. No continents and no age-group teams. Only countries.

The Under-23 North American team provided lots of excitement, and Europe made the semifinals. But it’s not a true international tournament if amalgamated teams play. It’s not a substitute for the Olympics.

The North American team deprived Canada and the United States of players that would have made their teams. Europe = Austria + Denmark + France + Germany + Norway + Slovakia + Slovenia + Switzerland. WTF?

The Canada Cup (1976-91) was the predecessor to the World Cup, and was traditionally composed of the “Big Six” = Canada, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), Finland, Sweden, USA, USSR (Russia).

Make the World Cup eight teams. The “Big Six,” plus…

Slovakia should be the seventh team: World champion in 2002, runner-up as recently as 2012, traditionally strong representation in the NHL.

The eighth team should be whichever finishes highest out of the remaining nations at the prior spring’s IIHF World Championships.

The World Cup needs to replace the Olympics in the minds of the fans and players. That’s a tough ask, especially for European players. But the tweaks mentioned provide the best try.

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