Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Hockey Qualifying Round Eliminated

New Olympic format will be implemented regardless of NHL players' status.

September 19, 2003|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

The men's Olympic hockey tournament at the 2006 Turin Games will feature 12 teams and won't include a qualifying round to get into the main draw, a change from the format used at Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said Thursday the new format will be implemented regardless of whether NHL players take part in the Turin Games. Their participation must be negotiated by the league and its players' union, who aren't expected to settle that before a new collective bargaining agreement is formulated. The current agreement expires next Sept. 15.

The qualifying round had put teams such as Slovakia, Germany and Belarus at a huge disadvantage. Their best players play in the NHL, but NHL clubs were reluctant to release them to play in qualifying games that took place before the NHL's Olympic break. The U.S., Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic, the so-called big six hockey powers, had byes through the qualifying round.

King winger Ziggy Palffy, asked to help Slovakia qualify for the main tournament at Salt Lake City, was given permission to play in the team's second game. However, he was pressed into service when Slovakia trailed Germany in its opener, his fourth game in four nights. He didn't play the next game and Slovakia failed to advance. King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky played three games for Slovakia.

"That's great," Palffy said Thursday about the change. "It's hard for us to play an NHL schedule and play the qualifying games."

The top eight teams after the 2004 World Hockey Championships will qualify for the Turin Games, as will host Italy. The remaining three teams will be decided through qualification tournaments that will end by February 2005.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|