The World Baseball Classic final that culminated with Shohei Ohtani striking out Mike Trout to give Japan a 3-2 win over the USA has been all the buzz on Wednesday, and other sports are taking notice.
Connor McDavid, the 26-year-old star for the Edmonton Oilers and NHL’s leading point-getter, spoke about it prior to their game against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night and believes that hockey needs to follow baseball’s footsteps.
“I thought it was really cool,” McDavid said. “It’s what we’ve been asking for in hockey for a long time. It’s best-on-best. Everyone has been talking about baseball, did you see Ohtani vs. Trout, and that’s what hockey’s been missing for almost a decade now. That’s what we’ve been asking for.”
Baseball has historically been the sport lagging behind and following others, but it’s interesting to see a suddenly new perspective after the success of the most recent World Baseball Classic, which began in 2006 and had not been played since 2017.
The last time the NHL's best players competed internationally against each other was in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The last time they went to the Olympics was in 2014, with the league barring them from playing in the last two Winter Olympics.
A World Cup of Hockey was in the works for 2024 but the NHL and NHLPA announced late last year that the “current environment is not feasible” to allow them to host the tournament as the NHL continues to suspend all business relationships with Russia due to the war with Ukraine.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cited Russia as one of “the number of issues” the league was working on.
The league and players’ association is hopeful for a World Cup in 2025.
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