At an NHL Board of Governors meeting a few years ago, there was mention of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey tournament getting kick-started with a handful of tune-up games prior to the eight teams converging on Toronto for the start of the tournament.
That perked the ears of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
“We have this thriving fan base and we now know how to do it,” Leonsis said. “I volunteered, but we had to bid on it and that’s daunting. We have to sell tickets, we have to have confidence our fans will come out and want to see these games. I just had this confidence that we would take the risk.”
And so, prior to the World Cup of Hockey, Team USA, Team Sweden, Team Finland and Team Europe will spend four days in the nation’s capital, practicing on the twin rinks at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and playing a pair of exhibition games at Verizon Center.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Team USA will face Team Finland in an NHL-style exhibition game, and on Wednesday, Sept. 13, Team Sweden will take on Team Europe. Pricing and availability for the tickets will be announced at a later date. The two games will be included in season ticket packages for the 2016-17 season.
Caps assistant general manager Don Fishman said the positive feedback following Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp at Kettler in August, 2013, along with the Caps’ acquisition of Olympic shootout sensation T.J. Oshie on July 2, helped clinch Washington’s bid to host the exhibition games.
“We thought, what better city than us to bring USA back here,” Fishman said. “We’ve got Oshie back here, (John) Carlson, maybe (Brooks) Orpik. USA was a natural fit and we went hard after Sweden, too, because we’ve got Nicklas Backstrom.
“We think USA will be a big night, but we think Nick Backstrom and Team Sweden will be a big night, too. So we aggressively went after that.”
The four teams are scheduled to work out at Kettler from Sept. 12-15 before heading to Toronto for the two-week tournament.