Sports

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock not a fan of World Cup format

By Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

The traditionalist in Mike Babcock popped up on Tuesday morning.

Babcock, the head coach of Team Canada, isn’t overly keen on the format of the World Cup of Hockey as it stands.

“This young guns team (the 23-and-under Team North America), or whatever it was, was spectacular,” Babcock said.

“Next time, is there going to be a (Connor) McDavid and a (Auston) Matthews and those guys? You better be careful what you do with that.

“Team Europe has done a great job, they are right here in the final. Pretty hard to knock it, and yet I like country on country.

“I like the opportunity to represent your country where the heart is on you and you have to deliver. I think that’s a huge part of the Olympic Games. The other thing is the World Cup is great, (but) it’s not the Olympics. Let’s not get confused.”

For some, however, that the World Cup is different from the Olympics is the point. Try telling members of Team Europe that it’s any less important.

It’s going to be interesting to see where the format goes from here. Babcock is right — there’s a good chance we won’t see youngsters with the talent of McDavid and Matthews again, at least not at the same time.

Some thought of the North American team, and the one comprised of Europeans from eight countries, as tournament gimmicks. And some still do, never mind that both clubs have brought a breath of fresh air, especially the young group, to the event.

Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger, not surprisingly, had a dissimilar take than Babcock.

“To get 184 of the best players in the world on the same stage has never happened in this magnitude and this concentration,” Krueger said.

“We’ve possibly put the party on its head a little bit and why not?

“I think hockey is a beautiful game and one thing about Team Europe being here is it’s the ultimate team sport and it’s just proven the way the team has come together, how they have played for each other.

“I love the format, of course. We are sitting here in the final and we have so much enjoyment in the process of being together.”

Any other ideas for the next World Cup, Mr. Babcock?

“Two cities,” Babcock said. “Only night games. Based on where you finish, where your world standing is, that is how you are ranked in the tournament. That’s how you pick dressing rooms, that is how you pick everything. That’s fair, actually. When you go to the Olympic games, the swimmer in the heat that swims the fastest gets the best lane. That’s how it should be.”

tkoshan@postmedia.com

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