Canada Cup Main article: Canada Cup The World Cup of Hockey was preceded by the Canada Cup, which began in 1976 in a combined effort from Doug Fisher of Hockey Canada and Alan Eagleson of the NHL Players' Association. Taking inspiration from soccer's FIFA World Cup, Eagleson proposed a new tournament that would bring together all the top hockey-playing nations. After successful negotiations with hockey officials from the Soviet Union in September 1974, Eagleson began arranging the Canada Cup tournament, which debuted in 1976. It was the first international ice hockey tournament that allowed hockey nations to field their top players, as the Winter Olympics was a strictly amateur competition and the annual World Championships clashed with the Stanley Cup playoffs. The tournaments, held every three to five years, took place in North American venues prior to the start of the National Hockey League (NHL) regular season. Six teams competed in each edition. Of the five Canada Cup tournaments, four were won by Canada, while the Soviet Union won one in 1981.
World Cup of Hockey In 1996, the Canada Cup was officially replaced by the World Cup of Hockey. The Canada Cup trophy was retired. The tournament expanded to eight teams: as the national teams of Canada, United States, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden, popularly dubbed as the Big Six, were joined by Germany and Slovakia. The United States defeated Canada to win the inaugural event. Eight years later, the second installment of the World Cup of Hockey took place in 2004, just prior to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. Canada won its first tournament championship, defeating the Czech Republic in the semifinals and Finland in the final match. On January 24, 2015, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to be held in September 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The 2016 edition featured a slightly modified format: alongside the Big Six countries, there were two all-star teams, consisting of Team Europe and an under-23 Team North America. Canada again won the championship, defeating Team Europe in the finals. For the 2020 edition, the all-star teams will be replaced by qualifying teams. There are also plans for a spin-off event beginning in 2018, which would pit a European all-star team against a North American all-star team in a five or seven-game series. This event would also occur every four years, alternating biannually with the World Cup of Hockey. These moves are intended, primarily, to help expand the international prominence of the NHL.