-- As the 2016 World Cup winds down, we wondered: Was the eight-team, best-on-best tournament a triumph for the sport? ?Our writers offered their thoughts.
Well, first off define "success." Did it make money for the National Hockey League and the players who organized the tournament? If it's true that every ticket was sold then yes, that part of it was a success. Was the hockey good? Yes. I thought the World Cup featured more, better hockey than we saw at the Sochi Olympics, but nothing that compared to the hockey on display four years earlier in Vancouver at the 2010 Games.
If success is measured in part by pure enjoyment of the product, then having Team North America dazzle us for three tournament games qualifies this World Cup as a rousing success. Europe, the other team that was made up just for this tournament, also far exceeded expectations if you want to add that to the success quotient.
If success is also measured by sustained interest and buzz, then the tournament fell short. As the best-of-three finals opened between dominating Team Canada and upstart Team Europe, it appeared as though fans were weary as opposed to energized. The bottom line is you don't get to pick who succeeds at these tournaments (even though organizers did their best to pave a way deep into the tournament for Team USA). So the final matchup between Team Europe and Canada has seen the air slowly go out of the event at its pinnacle -- even though Team Europe provided a stern test for Canada in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals. Does that mean the tournament is a failure? Hardly. It's just less of a success than it otherwise might have been. --Scott Burnside
Canada needs competition
What qualifies this World Cup as a success or not? The NHL and NHLPA, I think, will make money. So there's that. Staging an entire tournament in one city over two weeks takes a whole lot of manpower, and for that I tip my hat the folks at the NHL Players' Association and the NHL who worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to bring this thing together. A lot of them haven't had a day off in months.
The empty (although we're told they were sold) seats for Game 1 of the World Cup finals, not to mention the tepid atmosphere, left a sour taste for me. A clip of Mario Lemieux's winning goal from the 1987 Canada Cup played on the big screen during the game Tuesday night and you couldn't help but be struck by the juxtaposition of it all, the scenes of those delirious fans going out of their minds at Copps Coliseum almost 30 years ago compared with the lifeless crowd on hand at Air Canada Centre.
I'm not blaming the fans -- there simply is no rivalry or history between juggernaut Team Canada and the made-up Team Europe. Maybe that's just it. This tournament will be great again once we get a team to rival Canada, which I suspect will be Team USA next time around given the rising young American star talent. The NHL and NHLPA did a nice job of bringing this event back. A rousing success it was not. I'll give it a solid B-plus. -- Pierre LeBrun
The players clearly cared
I look at this tournament and I see unrealized potential. I can't help but wonder what a USA-Canada final might have looked like. I also can't help but wonder if Team North America could have beaten Canada. Maybe not in a series, but man, would I have liked their chances in a one-game, semifinal-knockout opportunity. We would have seen fewer empty seats if one of those scenarios had materialized. What this tournament showed us is that there is real potential for a great World Cup for the ages, even if we didn't get that here. The players clearly cared. You saw it in the effort turned in by Sidney Crosby and his teammates. You saw it when the veterans on Team Europe buckled down and got serious at just the right time. You saw it in the red eyes of the Americans when they were eliminated. I'll leave this tournament thinking about what might have been and what might still yet to be at the next one. --Craig Custance
North America-Sweden was worth every penny
I've loved the World Cup. I think, from a hockey standpoint, that it was worth holding the entire tournament just to see that 3-on-3 overtime between Team North America and Sweden. Holy crap, that was amazing. I'd be lying, however, if I said the air has felt so electric all the way through. I think that's a function of the artificiality of the event -- unlike those other non-invented sporting events found in nature -- and the fact that the World Cup isn't yet entrenched in the collective hockey mind.
Time will improve its stature. I just hoped for more from Toronto. The surprise success of Team Europe changed the dynamic of the finals (and blame the Americans, not Europe, for being absolutely terrible and blowing the chance for a more compelling matchup), but Canada remains one of the great hockey teams ever assembled, even a perfect one. For that team to play in front of empty seats in a hockey capital is inexcusable to me. -- Chris Jones
It was great for the game -- at every level
I will watch hockey anywhere, anytime and at any level. It could be a youth, high school, college, junior, minor league or NHL game and I will pay attention. I love the game. For an entire month -- which included trips to Gothenburg, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Washington, D.C.; and Toronto -- I've been spoiled by the best talent in the world during this tournament.
The World Cup of Hockey is a good thing. Sure, it has some wrinkles, but this event needs to have a future no matter whether NHLers participate in the Olympics or not. I picked Sweden to win the World Cup championship and that obviously did not come to fruition. Being an American, I was hoping for a better outcome by Team USA. Team North America was like watching a bunch of kids play on the pond. It was exciting and actually brought me out of my seat once or twice. You have to love how Team Europe literally surprised the world and reached the finals against Team Canada. Speaking of the Canadians, this roster has to be one of the greatest collections of talent -- ever. After you take time to digest the entire process you will realize this tournament was great for the game of hockey at every level and it needs to happen again. -- Joe McDonald