World Cup of Hockey

World Cup of Hockey
Logo of 2016 event
Tournament information
Sport Ice hockey
Established 1992
Number of
Teams 8
Current champion
Canada (2nd title)
Most recent tournament
2016 World Cup of Hockey

The World Cup of Hockey is an international ice hockey tournament. Inaugurated in 1996, it is the successor to the Canada Cup, which ran from 1976 to 1991 and was the first international hockey championship to allow nations to field their top players. The World Cup has occurred thrice before on an irregular basis, with the United States winning in 1996 and Canada winning in 2004 and 2016. Following the 2016 tournament, plans exist for future tournaments to be held on a regular basis every four years.

The World Cup of Hockey is organized by the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), unlike the annual World Ice Hockey Championships and quadrennial Olympic tournament, both run by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). World Cup games are played under NHL rules and not those of the IIHF, and the tournament occurs prior to the NHL pre-season, allowing all the NHL's players to be available, unlike the World Championships, which overlaps with the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.


Canada Cup

The World Cup of Hockey was preceded by the Canada Cup, which began in 1976 in a combined effort from Doug Fisher of Hockey Canada and Alan Eagleson of the NHL Players' Association.[1] Taking inspiration from soccer's FIFA World Cup, Eagleson proposed a new tournament that would bring together all the top hockey–playing nations. After successful negotiations with hockey officials from the Soviet Union in September 1974, Eagleson began arranging the Canada Cup tournament, which debuted in 1976.[2] It was the first international ice hockey tournament that allowed hockey nations to field their top players, as the Winter Olympics was a strictly amateur competition and the annual World Championships clashed with the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The tournaments, held every three to five years, took place in North American venues prior to the start of the National Hockey League (NHL) regular season. Six teams competed in each edition. Of the five Canada Cup tournaments, four were won by Canada, while the Soviet Union won one in 1981.

World Cup of Hockey

In 1996, the Canada Cup was officially replaced by the World Cup of Hockey. The Canada Cup trophy was retired. The tournament expanded to eight teams: as the national teams of Canada, United States, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden, popularly dubbed as the Big Six,[3] were joined by Germany and Slovakia. The United States defeated Canada to win the inaugural event.

Eight years later, the second installment of the World Cup of Hockey took place in 2004, just prior to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. Canada won its first tournament championship, defeating the Czech Republic in the semifinals and Finland in the final match.

On January 24, 2015, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to be held in September 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The 2016 edition featured a slightly modified format: alongside the Big Six countries, there were two all-star teams, consisting of Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America. Canada again won the championship, defeating Team Europe in the finals.

For the 2020 edition, the all-star teams will be replaced by qualifying teams. There are also plans for a spin-off event beginning in 2018, which would pit a European all-star team against a North American all-star team in a five or seven-game series. This event would also occur every four years, alternating biannually with the World Cup of Hockey. These moves are intended, primarily, to help expand the international prominence of the NHL.[4]


In 2004, Canadian American architect Frank Gehry designed a new trophy for the tournament. It is made from a composite alloy of copper and nickel as well as solid cast urethane plastic.[5] The trophy was criticized by the sports community, noting the Toronto Sun's headline "What is that?"[6]


YearFinal hostChampionRunner-upFinal score(s)Semi-finalists
1996 Philadelphia (Game 1)
Montreal (Games 2, 3)
 United States Canada3–4 (OT), 5–2, 5–2 Russia and  Sweden
2004 Toronto Canada Finland3–2 Czech Republic and  United States
2016 Toronto Canada Europe3–1, 2–1 Russia and  Sweden

See also


  1. "Canada Cup (World Cup of Hockey)". Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
  2. The Canada Cup of Hockey Fact and Stat Book, p. 2, H.J. Anderson, ISBN number: 1412055121, 9781412055123, Publisher: Trafford Publishing, 2005
  3. "NHL announces World Cup of Hockey for 2016". The Canadian Press. 2015-01-24. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  4. "New-look World Cup of hockey back for 2016". Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  5. Baurick, Tristan (May 13, 2004). "Architect's love of the game inspiration behind Cup trophy", Ottawa Citizen, p. C2.
  6. Adams, Noah (September 3, 2004). "Frank Gehry's World Cup of Hockey Trophy" (Radio Interview.). National Public Radio. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  • Müller, Stephan : International Ice Hockey Encyclopedia 1904-2005 / BoD GmbH Norderstedt, 2005 ISBN 3-8334-4189-5
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