Amid the excitement surrounding this year’s exciting World Baseball Classic, Connor McDavid wants hockey to bring back a similar tournament featuring the game’s top stars.
After Shohei Ohtani struck out Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout to secure Japan’s victory over the United States in Tuesday’s championship game, McDavid spoke to reporters Wednesday about hockey’s need for those same types of times.
“That’s what we’ve been asking for in hockey for a long time, hasn’t it? It’s the best against the best,” McDavid said, via TSN. Carlo Coliacovo. “Look, everybody’s talking about baseball. You see Ohtani versus Trout. That’s what hockey has been missing for almost a decade now.”
The last time a significant number of the NHL’s top players competed in an international tournament was at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. , NHL players don’t get the same luxury now.
With NHL players barred from participating in the 2018 and 2022 Olympics, the 2024 World Cup of Hockey was the second-best shot at a top international tournament. However, the NHL announcement last November that the “current environment” made it impossible to hold the World Cup in 2024. Instead, the league is targeting a 2025 return for the tournament. The last World Cup of Hockey was held in 2016. In 2020, impending labor negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA forced the cancellation of the tournament.
To say this year’s WBC was a huge success would be an understatement. The fan engagement was palpable, and the ratings confirm it. According to Sports Media Watch’s Paulsen, Tuesday’s WBC Final was the most-watched match in tournament history, drawing 4.97 million viewers. Additionally, Tuesday’s championship game drew more attention than all but one MLB game aired on Fox Sports 1 in 2022.
Seemingly on death’s door several times over the years, the WBC has shown that baseball still has a very passionate following. Hockey has always been ranked fourth among the big four professional sports, and it has never been more evident than it is today. Following baseball’s lead could be a good start if hockey wants to change that perception.