NASHVILLE – It’s one of the nagging controversies surrounding the NHL All-Star Game: Players who opt not to attend the event to rest up, taking a one-game “suspension” on either side of the All-Star Break in the process.
That's missing a signature event for the NHL and the NHLPA. So what happens if a player is selected, and opts out, of their next signature event this fall: The World Cup of Hockey?
What if, for whatever reason, they decide not to play for their national teams?
Nothing, it turns out.
“Ultimately, all of these things are voluntary for the players. I wouldn’t say the All-Star Games are, because it’s in their standard player contract. But clearly something like the World Cup is,” said deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
“I think we’re going to have the best players. I don’t think we’re going to have a problem with opting out. But in this case, it’s personal choice.”
The first groups of 16 players for all eight teams in the World Cup must be revealed by March 2. The first games are Sept. 17.
Tickets are very much still available for the event at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, as groups of four in the “cheapest” ticket category – $1,643 for the 11-day tournament – can be had. A group of four tickets in the highest-priced ticket category would run $18,172. Fans must buy entire strips of tickets for the tournament.
“We’re not sold out yet, but the event is eight months away. The building is substantially full,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “There’s plenty of time, but the initial response has been outstanding.”
So the NHL is confident the fans will show up – as well as the players.
“I don’t think I’m aware of a situation where a player has opted out of an international tournament for world supremacy,” said Daly.