No matter whether a lockout starts in the National Hockey League in the fall of 2004, hockey fans will all the same see the best players in the 2004 World Cup in September. The NHL and the International Hockey League Players’ Association are the main organizers of the Cup.
A press-conference was scheduled for April 3 in North America where the cup structure, schedule of matches and other details were to be announced. A working meeting on the tournament will be held in Helsinki, during the world championship on May 7.
At present, Russia's newspaper Sport Express already knows when preliminary stage games of the Russian team are probably to take place. Russian players will start matches with the US squad in Minneapolis/St. Paul on September 2; in a day, September 4 it will play with the Canadian team in Toronto. Next day Russian hockey players will have a match with the Slovak team there. The key problem now is who will play in the squad at the World Cup. As for Canada and America, the teams will consist of NHL players only; but as for European teams and for Russia, the answer is not so obvious because there are many wonderful hockey players at home championships a well. Another problem is a problem of coach for the squad that will play in the World Cup. We should keep in mind that the traditional first Euro Tour tournament in Czechia won't be held in 2004. Who will be appointed the coach: Plyushev, Yurzinov, Fetisov, Mikhalev or Vuytek? And one more problem is where to hold the training in August, in Russia or in North America.
Although the World Cup is a very attractive tournament, it entails much expense for the organizers as well as for the national hockey federations. All participants of the Cup must be insured in proportion to the sums of their contracts in the National Hockey League; training dues are also rather high, not to mention flights and accommodation in hotels.
In the nearest time the Russian Hockey Federation will focus its main attention on the 2004 World Cup, but if we wish to win, we must start training already now.
Vsevolod Kukushkin Sport Express
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://sport.pravda.ru/sport/2003/17/84/339/9338_Cup.html