The owners of six National Hockey League teams have ensured there will be a hockey played at the Maccabiah Games – by agreeing to sponsor the tournament.
While Team GB aren’t competing in the tournament, more established countries such as Canada, Russia, Ukraine, USA and hosts Israel, will compete in both open and junior competitions, which takes place in Metulla, which has the country’s only full-sized rink.
However, it was only after six NHL team owners – Daryl Katz (Edmonton Oilers); Henry Samueli (Anaheim Ducks); Ed Snider (Philadelphia Flyers); Larry Tanenbaum (Toronto Maple Leafs); Cliff Viner (Florida Panthers) and Jeff Vinik (Tampa Bay Lightning) – put their hands in their pockets, that the running of the tournament could be confirmed. In addition, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Joe Cohen of Los Angeles also contributed to support the tournament.
Maccabiah CEO Eyal Tiberger said: “Thanks to the support of the NHL owner and Commissioner Gary Bettman, ice hockey joins the Maccabiah Games for the first time as an official sport.
“We very much look forward to the tournaments and are sure that the participation of both professional and college players will add a lot of interest. We are also grateful to the Israeli regulatory bodies for helping us upgrade the Metula facility to meet international standards.”
Expected to be a tournament of high quality, NHL’s Dallas Stars player Eric Nystrom is part of the USA’s coaching staff, while Mike Keenan, who led the NY Rangers to their historic 1994 Stanley Cup Championship, and coached the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks to Stanley Cup finals appearances, is coaching Team Canada.