World Cup of Hockey
Logo of 2016 event
SportIce hockey
First season1996
No. of teams8
Most recent
 Canada (2nd title)

The World Cup of Hockey is an international ice hockey tournament. Inaugurated in 1996, it is the successor to the Canada Cup, which was held every 3 to 5 years from 1976 to 1991 and was the first international hockey championship to allow nations to field their top players.[1] 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, it is uncertain if the series will be continued, after the cancellation of the 2020 tournament.

The World Cup of Hockey is organized by the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), unlike the annual Ice Hockey World 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

Main article: 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.[2] 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.[3][self-published source] 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, that being in 1981.

World Cup of Hockey

1996 World Cup trophy

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,[4] 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.

A 2020 edition was planned to include a European qualification tournament to determine some participating nations.[5] In January 2019, plans for the tournament were abandoned due to the pending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association.[6][7] In August 2019, it was reported that a World Cup could take place in February 2021 if the CBA could be extended or renewed;[8] however, this was ruled-out by the NHL later that year.[9] In February 2024, the NHL announced plans to hold the next World Cup in 2028 and every four years after that.[10]


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.[11] The trophy was criticized by the sports community, including the Toronto Sun's headline "What is that?"[12]


Year Final host Champion Final score(s) Runner-up Semifinalists
1996 Philadelphia (game 1)
Montreal (games 2, 3)
 United States 3–4 (OT), 5–2, 5–2  Canada  Russia,  Sweden
2004 Toronto  Canada 3–2  Finland  Czech Republic,  United States
2016 Toronto  Canada 3–1, 2–1 Europe  Russia,  Sweden


Team Titles Runners-up Semifinals Total (top 4)
 Canada 2 (2004, 2016) 1 (1996) 3
 United States 1 (1996) 1 (2004) 2
 Finland 1 (2004) 1
Europe 1 (2016) 1
 Sweden 2 (1996, 2016) 2
 Russia 2 (1996, 2016) 2
 Czech Republic 1 (2004) 1

See also


  1. ^ Williams, Rob (January 17, 2019). "NHL cancels plans for World Cup of Hockey in 2020". Archived from the original on March 24, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  2. ^ Coleman, Jim (May 2, 2011). "Canada Cup (World Cup of Hockey)". Archived from the original on January 1, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  3. ^ Anderson, H. J. (August 26, 2005). The Canada Cup of Hockey Fact and Stat Book. Trafford Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-4120-5512-3.
  4. ^ "NHL announces World Cup of Hockey for 2016". January 24, 2015. Archived from the original on January 27, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  5. ^ Johnston, Chris (January 24, 2015). "New-look World Cup of hockey back for 2016". Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  6. ^ "NHL, NHLPA abandon hope of a World Cup in September 2020". January 16, 2019. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  7. ^ Seravalli, Frank (January 16, 2019). "NHL, NHLPA abandon plans for 2020 World Cup of Hockey". Archived from the original on January 19, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  8. ^ Johnston, Chris (August 16, 2019). "'Cautiously optimistic' NHL CBA talks could result in 2021 World Cup". Archived from the original on August 27, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  9. ^ Gretz, Adam (December 10, 2019). "There will be no World Cup of Hockey during 2021 season". NBC Sports. Archived from the original on August 9, 2023. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  10. ^ Van Diest, Derek (February 2, 2024). "NHL to hold 4 Nations Face-Off tournament in 2025". Archived from the original on February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  11. ^ Baurick, Tristan (May 13, 2004). "Architect's love of the game inspiration behind Cup trophy". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa. p. 32. Retrieved February 3, 2024 – via
  12. ^ Adams, Noah (September 3, 2004). "Frank Gehry's World Cup of Hockey Trophy". Archived from the original on October 23, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2024.

Further reading