The IIHF World Championships have always been overlooked by the fans of the NHL, mostly due to its scheduling overlap with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, usually with the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the World Championships are a hidden gem to many Americans and Canadians, likely due to the lack of exposure and the overseas fans perceiving it as not a best-on-best competition. Here are five reasons you should tune in.
1. The only international competition with NHL participation
The NHL and IIHF do not bear each other a great deal of love. Nor have the two worked out the deal to find a spot in the calendar that would allow for a full NHL participation. The NHL does tolerate the World Championships and lets the team decide whether to let their players go or not.
As of now, that makes it the only place where you can see NHL talent pull on their national jerseys, compete for their country, and try to gel with teammates from other leagues.
Despite the rumors, the NHL has not announced that its players would be free to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing while postponing its own event, the World Cup of Hockey, until further notice. Last year, the tournament attracted stars like Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, and Filip Forsberg.
So, if you enjoy seeing your favorite players competing in a national team dynamic, be sure to check out the IIHF World Championships!
2. Great to watch if your team missed the Stanley Cup playoffs
If you are a fan of the Ottawa Senators or the Los Angeles Kings, you have not really seen your team play a meaningful game since November, so the World Championships might give you an opportunity to do that. Often the stars on these teams get frustrated and want to get into a winning mindset, so they turn to this option, like Kane and McDavid last year.
It would not be a huge surprise to see the likes of Dustin Brown, Thomas Chabot, or even Drew Doughty to skate out onto the ice in Kosice and Bratislava, looking to end their season on a good note.
If your team just barely misses the playoffs, the European stars are still very likely to join their national teams, so guys like Mikko Rantanen or John Klingberg might still get to show their talent on the wide ice.
3. Get your morning fix
For the casual hockey fan, the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs can be a bit exhausting with hockey on almost all the time, so they might enjoy the time off.
However, the hardcore fans who live and breathe hockey might enjoy the World Championships coming into their lives and filling out their mornings with more matches. They might especially appreciate it on their days off.
4. Watch your nation's players get some joy
For a fan of a team, there is nothing like seeing your team win a boat race. If you are Canadian or American, you are likely to have a couple almost guaranteed within your group due to the format. Not only will these two teams face off in a difficult match against each other and Finland, but they will also able to get some joy and get to play the likes of France and Great Britain.
If you are someone who has been frustrated all season like Drew Doughty, or a player that just missed out of playoffs like Connor McDavid might, racking up a double-digit score with your buddies from the national team ought to set your mood straight.
If you are a fan of a team that has already been dumped out of the playoffs by this point, instead of holing up for the summer, it might be worth it to pull on your Team Canada or Team USA jersey and see your country fight for a medal!
5. It's just something different!
If the above reasons have not convinced you, then just watch it because of how weird and different of a tournament it is compared to regular NHL action.
First, you have the wide ice that provides more space for creativity for players. Secondly, you get to know some new players that come to represent their countries from different leagues, but also some blasts from the past such as Pavel Datsyuk, who is expected to play again this year.
Finally, the added drama and excitement of extra players joining their national team after losing in the playoffs. There are always rumors about who will and who will not parachute in, but there are almost always some big stars on their way. In the past decade, Alex Ovechkin coming in after losing in the playoffs has happened almost regularly.
Has this article convinced you to give the IIHF World Championships a shot? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!