The World Cup of Hockey, which will see eight national (sort of) teams face off in Toronto in September for a tournament that should be heavy on NHLers, excitement, and totally acceptable obnoxious jingoism. (Fuck you, Canada! Your exchange rates are currently unfavorable for you!)
The team logos, via Sportsnet, are above. The tournament itself is six months out, but the teams are today releasing their preliminary rosters—the first 16 players, with seven more to be added by June 1. Here are the first four announced:
Not a lot of surprises here, and no real need to get worked up over snubs until the full 23-man rosters are finalized.
- The Russians, as promised, have rostered entirely NHLers. They’ve been heavy on KHL players at past tournaments, but haven’t had much success. This team is heavy on scorers, as usual, but maybe thin at the back end.
- The Finns return a large number of players from their bronze-medal winning Olympic roster, and boast great goaltending and a solid, physical team that’s built to win low-scoring games.
- No Jaromir Jagr for the Czechs—the 44-year-old announced his retirement from international play last year, but there was hope he’d take part in the World Cup after a remarkably good year for the Panthers. He could still be added later, once he sees what he’s got left after the season.
- Sweden looks strong again, a new coach but a veteran team backstopped by Henrik Lundqvist, who stood on his head for an Olympic gold in 2006 and led them to silver in Sochi. No John Klingberg, which is a bit of a surprise for now, but that blue line is ridiculously stacked already.
The rest of the rosters and jerseys will be released later today. Team Europe at 4:30 ET, Team North America at 5:15, Team Canada at 6:05, and Team USA at 6:45. The U.S. roster will be announced live on SportsCenter, because ESPN has the TV rights to the World Cup, so get used to hockey coverage in your life again.
Honestly, I’m most excited for Team North America, which will consist of the best American and Canadian players age 23 and under. (Just call ‘em the Young Guns, because everyone else will.) Honestly, look at this projected roster, and tell me this won’t be the most fun team to watch. Then try to tell me it couldn’t medal.
Earlier today, ESPN released the first looks at the team jerseys—perhaps accidentally, because they were soon deleted. But not before Twitter got ahold of them.