This year we are blessed with some NHL level competitive hockey during the off-season in the form of the World Cup. Criticize it as a cash grab by the NHL, or as a poor attempt at replacing the Winter Olympics, but you have to appreciate that we are getting to watch some of the best players in the world compete against each other. In September. And if the pre-tournament exhibition games are any indication, these games are going to be highly entertaining.
So far I think many people agree that Team North America, composed of players aged 23 and under, are the most intriguing team. They are young, talented, fast, and most importantly, determined to prove that they can compete against their veteran peers. They seemed to have no issues handling Team Europe in their two exhibition games, but we’re all curious to see if they can make it out of their group to face off against more physical teams such as Team USA and Team Canada.
A matchup that always proves to be fun is USA vs Canada. Love is not lost between these two. They have met up twice already, back to back, over the weekend. And holy cow, are they going at it hard. Let’s not forget that these are exhibition games. The players are certainly not holding back with the hits. Let’s all hope the intensity remains on the same level, but the last thing any fan wants to see is their star players getting injured before the season begins (I’m looking at you, Seguin).
And from a Stars fan’s angle, we’ll be watching Seguin, Lindell, Hemsky, and Faksa perform on their respective national teams. Lindell, especially, can benefit from the opportunity to play alongside NHL caliber players since it is assumed he will make the roster this season.
With the World Cup beginning in a couple of days, and Stars players making their way to Dallas before training camp, it truly feels like the season is close to getting underway. The World Cup has certainly closed the gap a bit, and we couldn’t be happier.