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Everything You Want to Know About the World Cup...

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...but were afraid to ask.

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In case you've missed the flood of press releasesjersey revealsroster controversies and power rankings by team (to say nothing of some pretty awful commercials), here's an update for you: the World Cup of Hockey is back and it's coming soon to an ice rink near you. Training camps are already in full swing, with a slate of exhibition games scattered around the world before everyone meets up in Toronto at the end of the month for the main event.

What the heck is the World Cup of Hockey?

The World Cup of Hockey is the bastard offspring of the Canada Cup, a six-team tournament that took place every three to five years from 1976 to 1991. It is remembered for its dominance by Team Canada (who won five of the six tournaments) and controversy both criminal and trophy-centric:

In 1996, the Canada Cup was retired and replaced by the inaugural World Cup, with the field expanded to eight teams -€” Canada, the US, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Germany and Slovakia. Apparently the name change suited the Americans well, as they defeated Canada in the best-of-three final to win their first World Cup and become the proud owners of this... thing:

WCH1996 Trophy Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Not the most majestic trophy, to be sure. Doesn't make the win any less sweet, though:

Eight years later the tournament was back, offering up one last gasp of NHL-level magic before the lockout of 2004-05 scattered the best and brightest to the far reaches of the globe in search of any vestiges of hockey they could find. Canada returned to their winning ways that year, downing Finland in the final game.

And now it's returned with a vengeance, a new format and a hidden undertone of "yeah, we ain't going to those pesky Olympics no more". So that's fun.

Why should I care?

Well, no one's going to tell you that you have to care, especially if non-NHL hockey isn't your cup of tea.

But it is hockey in some form, which is generally a plus after a loooong summer without it. And unlike its less-important cousin, the World Championships, this tournament will actually feature a number of the best players in the world (and also Team USA). You know... provided they don't have an injury. Or an "injury".

For our purposes, one reason to care (or at least pray for no injuries) is that the Caps are sending a slew of representatives to the tournament, with at least one on five of the eight teams. In fact, of all of the exhibition and preliminary-round games, only two - a Czech Republic vs. Team North America throwdown in Pittsburgh and a North America vs. Finland matchup in Toronto - will be without a single Washington Capital.

What countries are participating?

Eight teams are taking part in this year's festivities, with Canada, the Czech Republic, Team Europe and the USA in Group A and Finland, Team North America, Russia and Sweden in Group B.

(Check out the full rosters here.)

Wait... Team North America and Team Europe?

Yup. It's a thing. Just go with it.

So how do the Caps fit into all of this?

As previously mentioned, the Caps are all over this tournament, with nine players and one coach representing their country (or country-like entity). Here's how it shakes out by team:

Russia: Alex Ovechkin (who will be team captain), Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov

Sweden: Nicklas Backstrom

Canada: Braden Holtby, Barry Trotz

USA: John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, Matt Niskanen

Team Europe: Philipp Grubauer

Aside from the healthy Caps contingent, the early days of the tournament will also take on a local flavor. Sweden, USA, Finland and Team Europe will all take to the Kettler ice this weekend and early next week before playing in a pair of exhibition games on Verizon Center ice.

Practice Schedule
[Note: all practices are unfortunately closed to the public... but if you need your practice fix, the rest of the Caps will be out at Kettler, with Associate Coach Todd Reirden running things.]

Team Europe

  • Tuesday, September 13 @ 10:45 a.m. (Kettler)
  • Wednesday, September 14 @ 10:30 a.m. (Verizon Center)

Team Finland

  • Monday, September 12 @ 11:00 a.m. (Verizon Center)
  • Tuesday, September 13 @ 11:30 a.m. (Verizon Center)

Team Sweden

  • Sunday, September 11 @ 6:20 p.m. (Kettler)
  • Tuesday, September 13 @ 12:30 p.m. (Kettler)
  • Wednesday, September 14 @ 11:30 a.m. (Verizon Center)

Team USA

  • Monday, September 12 @ 9:00 a.m. (Verizon Center)
  • Tuesday, September 13 @ 10:30 a.m. (Verizon Center)

Exhibition Game Schedule

  • USA vs. Finland - Tuesday, September 13, 7 p.m.
  • Team Europe vs. Sweden - Wednesday, September 14, 7 p.m.

What about the jerseys? Are they any good or are they hideous?

Let's go with... yes.

But really, just as with any other jersey or any sartorial choice in general, it all depends on your own personal taste. For a look at what the well-dressed World Cup participant will be wearing this fall, check out the official duds (and in some cases we do mean duds... but we'll let you be the judge of which ones those are).

Okay, I'm in. How do I watch?

Tickets are still available for every game, including the Final, so if that's in your budget you can get tickets here (for the exhibition games at Verizon) or here (for the main event in Toronto).

Barring that, all exhibition and tournament games will be broadcast in some form, with ESPN's family of networks carrying the games in the US and Sportsnet and TVA providing coverage north of the border.

Here's the full broadcast schedule:

Round Team 1 Team 2 Date Time (ET) Location Broadcast Info
Exhibition
Czech Republic Russia Thursday, Sept. 8 12:30 p.m. Yubileyny Sports Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Sweden Finland Thursday, Sept. 8 12:00 p.m. Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Team Europe Team North America Thursday, Sept. 8 8:00 p.m. Videotron Centre, Quebec City, QC, Canada ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Canada USA Friday, Sept. 9 7:00 p.m. Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH ESPNU, SN, TVA Sports
Finland Sweden Saturday, Sept. 10 12:00 p.m. Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Russia Czech Republic Saturday, Sept. 10 10:30 a.m. O2 Arena, Prague, Czech Republic ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
USA Canada Saturday, Sept. 10 7:00 p.m. Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON, Canada ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Team Europe Team North America Sunday, Sept. 11 6:00 p.m. Bell Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Finland USA Tuesday, Sept. 13 7:00 p.m. Verizon Center, Washington, DC ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Czech Republic Team North America Wednesday, Sept. 14 3:30 p.m. CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Canada Russia Wednesday, Sept. 14 7:30 p.m. CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Sweden Team Europe Wednesday, Sept. 14 7:00 p.m. Verizon Center, Washington, DC ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports
Away Home Date Time (ET) Location Broadcast Info
Preliminary/
Round Robin
USA Team Europe Saturday, Sept. 17 3:30 p.m.
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Czech Republic Canada Saturday, Sept. 17 8:00 p.m. ESPNEWS, SN, TVA Sports
Sweden Russia Sunday, Sept. 18 3:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Team North America Finland Sunday, Sept. 18 8:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Team Europe Czech Republic Monday, Sept. 19 3:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Russia Team North America Monday, Sept. 19 8:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Finland Sweden Tuesday, Sept. 20 3:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Canada USA Tuesday, Sept. 20 8:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Team North America Sweden Wednesday, Sept. 21 3:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Team Europe Canada Wednesday, Sept. 21 8:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Finland Russia Thursday, Sept. 22 3:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
USA Czech Republic Thursday, Sept. 22 8:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Semifinals Date Time (ET) Location Broadcast Info
Single Elimination
A1 vs. B2
B1 vs. A2

Semifinal 1 Saturday, Sept. 24 7:00 p.m.
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Semifinal 2 Sunday, Sept. 25 1:00 p.m. ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Final Date Time (ET) Location Broadcast Info
Best-of-Three
Final Game 1 Tuesday, Sept. 27 8:00 p.m.
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Final Game 2 Thursday, Sept. 29 8:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports
Final Game 3 (if necessary) Saturday, October 1 7:00 p.m. ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports

And there you have it! Enjoy, and go Team US-, er, Rus-... hmm. Sweden?

Go hockey.