NHL Notebook: Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid takes aim at lack of best-on-best hockey tournament, Russia and Belarus suspended from IIHF tournaments in 2023-24, and more

Photo credit:Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
11 months ago
If there’s one player who has been vocal about the lack of best-on-best tournaments for hockey players, it’s Connor McDavid.
He’s been vocal in the past over no big tournaments, and he did the same Wednesday. His comments came a day after the world saw Shohei Ohtani and Japan take down Mike Trout and the USA in the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s what we’ve been asking for in hockey for a long time. Best on best. Look, everyone’s been talking about baseball and ‘did you see Ohtani vs. Trout?’ That’s what hockey’s been missing for about a decade now.”
It really is time for the NHL to sort this out, because we have been robbed of major tournaments for far too long. In fact, the last time we saw one was in 2016 during the World Cup of Hockey, and it feels like a lifetime ago. In a sense it really is considering at the time McDavid was just in his second season of NHL action. The NHL was supposed to head to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but opted out due to scheduling and safety concerns, among other reasons. The league was supposed to be at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, but the COVID-19 pandemic and human rights concerns.

Russia, Belarus suspensions continue

In other international hockey news, Russia and Belarus’ suspensions from IIHF tournaments will continue through 2023-24. Both nations have been banned since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2022 and has included last years men’s U-18 World Championships among others.
“Based on a detailed risk assessment from a renowned company that specializes in assessing risks due to various global challenges, the IIHF Council determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian Teams back into IIHF Competitions,” a statement read.
Here’s some of what Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis wrote:
Russia and Belarus have stuck to playing tournaments with each other and Kazakhstan. Some non-IIHF events, such as the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, U-17 World Hockey Challenge and various Four Nations and Euro Hockey Tour events, have also banned the two teams from competition.
Russia was originally supposed to host the 2023 World Junior Championship but moved to eastern Canada instead. They were also scheduled to host the 2023 men’s World Championship but was stripped in favor of a joint bid by Finland and Latvia.
The Russians still sit third in the IIHF’s men’s rankings and fifth in the women’s as of the last update in 2022. Belarus is 14th on the men’s side, but doesn’t have a women’s team at an elite level.
Neither team will participate in the upcoming IIHF tournaments, such as both senior World Championships or the U-18 World Championship in Switzerland.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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