With Friday's announcements of the World Cup of Hockey rosters for all eight teams competing in the tournament happening quite a bit before the festivities start in September, one of the immediate reactions to lists like these are "who are the guys who got snubbed?"
With only eight teams playing and only 23 players per team, it turns out that there are quite a few leftovers who didn't make their national teams. Most-notable is likely current Conn-Smythe candidate Phil Kessel being left off Team USA for not fitting the right kind of mold (whatever that means). However, I think if you put together an All-Snub team, they'd likely be able to place in the middle of the pack with a decent likelihood of medaling.
Here's what my All-Snub team would look like:
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I've tried to put this list together from true snubs without including players who I know specifically opted out (like Jaromir Jagr). The goaltending is not any more hit-or-miss than any of the other tournament favorites while the defense has a bunch of mobile puck-movers. The motley forwards group includes size, speed, and tenacity up and down the lineup as well.
This team would be tough to beat.
Why Team Snub Should Play
Hockey fans love the underappreciated guys. Just look at the John Scott ASG story from last season for a strong pointer why Team Snub would be among the fan-favorites at the entire tournament. Since we all know that this tourney is an obvious money grab (unlike the Olympics and the IIHC World Championships, which are subtle money-grabs), the factor of having what is essentially an all-spite team writes its own super-interesting narrative.
Not only would Team Snub work great for drama, but I think it would improve the sport. While this team is comprised entirely of players who would fit on a national team (rather than teams Europe or North America), it's a good message to the people running those teams about how to construct a winning squad. Could you imagine Team Sweden's response to finishing behind a team with Gustav Nyquist and John Klingberg on it?
Plus, just look at this jersey design which combines all the things we internet-folk love, overused memes, trolling celebrities, and complaining about underrated athletes:
How To Make it Work
Adding a 9th team to an 8-team tournament makes everything messy and harder to deal with. The current tournament setup with two groups of four playing a three-game group stage before the four best finishers head to the elimination round is neat and tidy.
I propose splitting the group play into three groups of three. Each team will play the other members of their group and then all eight of the non-Snub teams will each play one game against a team from a different group. The three group winners advance. The fourth spot is either treated like a play-in game for Team Snub or is automatically awarded to the best overall finisher who didn't win their group; if Team Snub can't possibly catch that team, then the game isn't played and Team Snub finishes the tourney with only 2 games played). Alternately, if team Snub wins their group by going 2-0, then all the better for them.
This leaves the lowest overall seed having to play four games before the elimination round starts, but that's their punishment for not winning their group before getting a shot at the title.
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Overall, it'll never happen. The potential embarrassment by the national teams over losing to people they decided not to take and the logistics of adding a ninth team to a two-week tournament (not to mention the worry about being unable to sell tickets for a play-in game that they're not certain will even happen) would worry all the people with money and pride on the line.
But, as a fan of the game I'm all for giving the also-rans a shot to shove it in some people's faces. That's what makes hockey so great.