TORONTO -- The success of the World Cup of Hockey 2016, a revival of a tournament last held 12 years ago, means it will become a fixture on the NHL's international schedule, Commissioner Gary Bettman said prior to Game 1 of the best-of-3 final between Team Canada and Team Europe on Tuesday.
"It's safe to say there will be another World Cup and more and more World Cups on a regular basis," Commissioner Bettman said. "We haven't sat down with the [NHL] Players' Association yet to decide whether or not if it should be in four years or three years or five years. That's something that will be on the table. When we're done in a few days, whether it's Thursday or Saturday, we will each take a deep breath, let our respective troops recover and we'll then debrief and get together and talk about what it is we think went well, what it is we think maybe we can do better, what it is maybe we should do different and start planning out the future."
Among the topics that will likely be discussed are future sites for the World Cup and if they should be decided in a bid process, and the format and if it should feature only national teams or continue with the Team Europe and Team North America concepts.
"The premise behind the way we did this event was we hadn't done it in over a decade, let's bring it back, let's bring it back big and bold," Commissioner Bettman said. "We accomplished that with the tournament here in Toronto and the Fan Village and the Legacy Project and everything else that went on around it. This is now an important event on the international sports competition stage. Where we take it I can't tell you for certain other than we built a foundation we can build off of."
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Commissioner Bettman said the inclusion of Team Europe and Team North America was a success despite skepticism from outside sources when the tournament's format was announced a year ago in Toronto.
Team Europe is comprised of 23 players from eight nations that are not already represented in the tournament. It became the surprise of the tournament by defeating Team USA and Team Czech Republic in the preliminary around, and Team Sweden in the semifinal to get to the final.
Team North America, which featured the 23 best players from the United States and Canada who are 23 years old or younger as of Oct. 1, became the fan favorite of the tournament because of the speed and skill it put on display with players such as Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau playing starring roles.
"What I think is clear to everybody is despite a lot of skepticism a year ago the concept worked pretty well, and secondly there's no doubt that part of the competitiveness, maybe the most competitive international hockey tournament ever, was a function of the fact that Team Europe and Team North America were certainly more competitive than the seventh and eighth country teams would have been," Commissioner Bettman said. "Does that mean that's the prototype for the future? Not necessarily. It's not a decision we've focused on yet. We haven't begun the planning process going forward."
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NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the popularity of Team North America exceeded his expectations.
"I think the team played fabulously well," Daly said. "I think it was well selected, well coached and the players were magnificent. I think the team and the players captured the hearts and imagination of the fans and really kind of became the tournament darling is probably something nobody could have anticipated certainly to the extent that it happened."
Daly said as of now the plan for the site of the next World Cup will be determined by bids submitted from various interested markets.
"Our going-in intention was to put it up for bid on some basis," Daly said. "I don't think there's anything that has transpired in this tournament that would change that view, but again that's something we have to sit down with the Players' Association and talk about."
Daly would not rule out playing tournament games in European markets, nor does he think every tournament game has to be played in one market.
There were nine venues in six countries, including four in Europe, used in the 1996 World Cup. There were seven venues in six countries used in the 2004 World Cup.
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"There are not a lot of Toronto's, I'll start there," Daly said. "It worked for this event, but also this city has a lot of premier sporting events over the next couple months and I think even for this market and its hockey passion it was at times challenging. So, we haven't evaluated it and we'll see how the bid process works and what people decide are good ideas for us to consider, but I certainly can see splitting games in the future between markets."
Daly, though, did say that the World Cup in Toronto had better attendance than any international hockey tournament he has ever been to.
"This market's response to this tournament has been nothing short of outstanding," Daly said.