At the 2016 World Cup of Hockey there will be no anthem played for Team Europe before its games while Team North America will have the United States and Canadian national anthems played before its contests.
Players from Team Europe hail from Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Norway. Team North America is made up of players from the U.S. and Canada under the age of 23.
Here is the full statement on the decision released by both the NHL and NHL Players’ Association.
The national anthems of the respective countries competing in each game will be played as part of the pre-game ceremonies in each of the WCH pre-tournament and tournament games. For Team North America, the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S, will be played before their games.
With respect to Team Europe, after careful consideration and consulting with team management and the Players in its leadership group, a determination was made to forego any form of musical tribute prior to Team Europe’s games. Participants from Team Europe were strongly of the view that notwithstanding their commitment to work together as a team toward a common objective in this tournament, their passion and loyalty for their own respective homelands and anthems made any surrogate musical tribute somewhat artificial and therefore unnecessary. Accordingly, only the anthem(s) of Team Europe’s opponent will be played before that team’s games.
How the NHL and NHLPA would handle the nationalistic pride of both teams has been a hot topic since the announcement of the tournament format.
Team Europe’s jerseys and logo were given mostly neutral colors with their native flag on their shoulder.
“Signifying a united Europe, the players’ countries are all represented by a modern E shield, featuring a single crest that connects all of their home nations,” wrote adidas after the Team Europe jersey reveal. “Players wear their flag on their shoulder and the names of each European nation in the unity stripe across their sleeve. A continental blue color scheme highlights harmony on a unified team.”
One year ago, Team Europe stars expressed some trepidation about the concept.
“I prefer country vs. country. It’s always more excited to be playing for your own country,” Slovakian defenseman Zdeno Chara said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be very exciting for the fans. But still, there are a few unknowns about how it’s going to be melded together.”
“We’re the most skilled team here, in my opinion,” forward Nathan MacKinnon said according to NHL.com. “I think we are, just with our speed. But in terms of best-on-best, everybody’s been in international tournaments and we have that feel. Obviously, it’s going to be a step up, but no one’s intimidated by that.”
Still, there are some former NHL stars who aren’t totally on board. Recently, Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch said he hoped the 2016 World Cup would be the “only year” for Team North America.
“I think it will be an interesting concept and I am intrigued about watching the team but I do hope that guys like that are able to in the future play, if they’re good enough, to play on (their national teams). I think it’s a great way to transition for every country,” Leetch said.
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