Admitting cluelessness about the detailed logistics of constructing an international hockey tournament, the overall idea isn’t complicated. The actual hockey is probably better before the NHL season. Players show a preference for the Olympics window. The World Baseball Classic faces pitching limits and a host of pitchers not wanting to disrupt their ramp-up to the season, making the February window the more sensical one. Get eight international teams together, split them into groups of four, and let’s go. Even Russia’s omittance from international tournaments sports-wide shouldn’t be much of a hurdle. The NHL appears on the brink of borking it twice. When the NHL set up its own international tournament, the World Cup, it was more of a joke and didn’t hold anyone’s attention. They’re now creating a four-team preview for 2025 in hopes of piling in three US-Canada games into a 10-day span. Fans want a look at what the shapes of every roster might look like a year later when it really counts. But that’s all it is. It’s not a tournament and it’s probably not worth stopping the season for, especially when February is when hockey can have the sporting world’s attention. Waiting around for Russia made some sense, but the smaller hockey nations have gotten close to the big ones. If it’s just going to be an Olympics preview, they’d be better off having the US and Canada play a best-of-five across the continent for a week instead of the All-Star break. If they can’t do it well, then don’t do it at all, and wait for the gap in 2028 between Olympics to have a proper World Cup.