Hockey Diplomacy: International Hockey Returns in 2025

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 30: Drew Fortescue of United States in action during final of U18 Ice Hockey World Championship match between United States and Sweden at St. Jakob-Park at St. Jakob-Park on April 30, 2023 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Jari Pestelacci/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 30: Drew Fortescue of United States in action during final of U18 Ice Hockey World Championship match between United States and Sweden at St. Jakob-Park at St. Jakob-Park on April 30, 2023 in Basel, Switzerland. (Photo by Jari Pestelacci/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Join the New York Rangers fans’ excitement as international hockey makes a triumphant return in 2025! Discover the hot scoop on what’s to come.

It seems after a decade long wait, professional international hockey is coming back.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association plan to bring international play back into our hockey lives, starting with a tournament in Feb. 2025. Exciting, right? Unfortunately, it won’t be the World Cup of Hockey, and guess what? No Russia in the mix.

According to Marty Walsh, the NHLPA executive director, other hockey powerhouses, like Finland and Sweden, are giving a hard pass if Russian-born players are in the mix, all thanks to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Talk about a tricky situation. Walsh spills the beans, saying, “There’s a bigger issue at play here. Other federations won’t allow other players to play in the tournament. You have to take all of that into account.”

The 2025 Tournament Dilemma – No Russia, No Problem? Exploring the Complications and Excitement Ahead:

Their job is to have the backs of all union members, no matter where they’re from. So, what about the Russian-born NHL players? Walsh kept it honest, “I represent everybody. I’m going to support my guys. It’s a really complicated situation. It’s complicated but yet very unfortunate. It’s an awful situation. You think about trying to separate sport from what’s happening in the world, and it’s complicated right now.”

The tournament is still in the works, with Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States in the spotlight. They’re eyeing games in Europe, but the details are still up in the air – no name, no branding, nothing set in stone. And get this: the tournament won’t be IIHF-sanctioned, so it’s NHL players only.

That’s not all, though. The NHL and NHLPA are teaming up with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IIHF for NHL players to hit the Olympic ice again, starting in 2026. It’s like a hockey buffet – 2025’s tournament, followed by the Olympics in 2026, and then an alternating schedule of Olympics and World Cup of Hockey every two years.

As for 2025, they’re thinking big with a format with the U.S. and Canada facing off twice in North America, while Sweden and Finland do their thing in either of those nations. Based on points or total goals, the winners face the losers in the semifinals. It means – a possible U.S. vs. Canada showdown three times. The tournament will take about a week, and the NHL hits pause during the action. They’re still figuring out the format, locations, and the entire deal. Stay tuned, Rangers fans; international hockey is making a comeback!