ESPN lands World Cup of Hockey

ESPN has been awarded exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to the World Cup of Hockey, which will be held in Toronto in the fall of 2016, officials announced Wednesday.

The broadcast deal covers all tournament games, including the best-of-three final that will be the culmination of the eight-team tournament scheduled to take place in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre between Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, 2016.

Most games will appear on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN International also has exclusive international rights to the tournament through its Pacific Rim and Latin North networks.

Live access to coverage of the tournament -- the first World Cup of Hockey tournament since 2004 -- will be available through WatchESPN on various other digital platforms.

"We are thrilled to resume our partnership with Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League and to work closely with Gary and Don Fehr of the National Hockey League Players' Association to make the World Cup of Hockey on ESPN a reality," ESPN president John Skipper said. "We look forward to presenting this compelling tournament, with national pride at stake, to fans both in the United States and internationally."

The tournament will feature teams from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic and Finland along with an All-Star team made up of European players based in countries not otherwise represented in the tournament and a team of players who are 24 or younger at the time of the tournament and who are based in either Canada or the United States.

The tournament is jointly organized by the NHL and the NHLPA.

"ESPN broadcast the prior World Cup of Hockey, from Air Canada Centre. Now the World Cup is returning, with ESPN broadcasting in the U.S.," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We are very pleased and hope our fans will be, as well."

Said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr: "We are excited to have ESPN as our broadcast partner for what is going to be an incredible tournament featuring over 150 of the top hockey players in the world. ESPN's reach and storytelling approach will expose our players' skill and personalities, something that we know will resonate with fans as the tournament unfolds."