Over All-Star weekend, the National Hockey League announced its return to international competition, beginning in 2025.
The announcement of the “4 Nations Face-Off” provided plenty of buzz throughout Toronto. For an eight-day period, the league’s top stars from the United States, Canada, Finland, and Sweden will represent their countries in a round-robin format. Two North American cities will split hosting when the four countries commence for this first-ever event.
Given the staleness of the annual All-Star festivities, the international tournament provides a welcome development. Yet, a few notable names will miss out on this unique tournament, including the dynamic David Pastrnak.
“There’s not much I can say. I’m not happy about it,” Pastrnak said following his recent All-Star Game appearance. “I understand that it’s a quick turnaround. It’s next year, you know, and they probably didn’t have much time to make a bigger tournament. But Czechia isn’t there, and there are a lot of other players that will be left out.”
Other bonafide stars like Leon Draisaitl (Germany) and Roman Josi (Switzerland) will either schedule a vacation or watch their peers like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid compete for gold next Feb. 12-20.
Luckily for the remaining holdovers like Pastrnak, Draisaitl and Josi, the “4 Nations Face-Off” isn’t the league’s only foray into international tournaments.
Barring an injury or a significant dropoff in production, Pastrnak will represent his native Czechia for the first international tournament since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“I’m so pumped,” Pastrnak said. “I was open about it the whole time. Obviously, I was very frustrated. I missed two of them already, but I’m looking forward to it.
After a hiatus in 2018 during the Pyongyang games, the league planned on sending its stars to Beijing four years later. Another COVID-19 wave forced the league to pause for a couple of weeks in late December 2021, ultimately backtracking on their commitment to the 2022 event in China’s capital city.
A handful of current Bruins remain on track to represent their countries two years from now when the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo share hosting responsibilities. Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy, in particular, expressed his desire for the league’s return to the Olympics to NHLPA Executive Director and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
“That’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I have to do everything I can to put myself in position to be on that team,” McAvoy said as he donned a Boston College hat after losing a bet with Bruins’ assistant coach John McLean.
“In speaking with Marty Walsh, that’s something that I, and with Pasta and a bunch of other people…we stressed out how badly we wanted to be a part of that and how badly we wanted to be a part of the last one we weren’t able to go to. But, yeah, it will be a dream come true to be a part of that event.”
McAvoy would’ve been on the U.S. radar in 2018 and 2022. He’ll turn 28 a couple of months before the 2026 games. By then, he’ll have a better idea of his status within Team USA’s decision process.
As will Pastrnak with Czechia, who will enter his 30’s if and/or when he makes his Olympic hockey debut.
“I’ll be 30,” Pastrnak said with a laugh. “I hope I make the team.”
Even the crystal ball suggests that Pastrnak’s chances of realizing one of his dreams remain high.
“That’s the dream,” Pastrnak said. “Hopefully, I can fulfill my dream in a couple of years.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.