The IIHF is holding their Semi-Annual and General Congress currently. So far the biggest news for women’s hockey out of the meetings is that, for the first time, the World Championships will be played in August of Olympic years.
That means the next World Championships tournament will be in August 2022. The Congress also elected Denmark as the host country. Exact location and dates are still be determined.
Previously, the top-level World Championships tournament did not take place in Olympic years. This is partially because the two major tournaments would be within mere months of each other, with the Olympics being played in the first few weeks of February and Worlds traditionally being played in late March through early April.
The 2021 Worlds tournament was held in late August this year, however, due to the abrupt cancellation of the spring version of the tournament because of the pandemic. It feels like this year’s tournament helped move along the proposal for the change to the schedule, which the IIHF said was presented to the delegates in June.
The change will also alleviate the promotion and relegation challenges because the lower divisions played tournaments in Olympic years, the IIHF release notes as well.
The rosters of the teams for the post-Olympics World Championships will be extremely interesting to watch, I think. Will they be largely the same as the Olympic tournaments or vary wildly as countries try to get a look at their next cycle’s players? Will teams that use similar rosters from February to August have an advantage or disadvantage? How will this impact training cycles?
Overall, this is a smart move. It’s no secret that the popularity in women’s hockey grows, perhaps evens skyrockets, after the Olympics. Having another high profile tournament so soon after will only help keep that momentum up. It will basically lead directly into college and pro seasons as well (which typically start in October and November), further helping to grow the game on a larger scale.