It’s been eight years since we’ve last seen best-on-best international hockey, with the 2016 World Cup being the last instance. On Friday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that NHL players will be participating in the NHL 4 Nations Face-Off in place of the All-Star Game in 2025, along with the 2026 and 2030 Olympics.
Today, Team USA announced that former NY Islanders captain and current Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin has been named the General Manager of Team USA for the 4 Nations Face-Off and the 2026 Olympics.
“It's an honor beyond belief to be asked to do this and I couldn't say yes quick enough," Guerin said. "I am so thankful to USA Hockey for this opportunity and also appreciate the support of [Wild owner] Craig [Leipold] and the Wild organization. I've been fortunate to have many great days in hockey and this is among the very best."
Guerin signed a two-year deal with the Islanders in the summer of 2007. On July 9 of that same summer, he was named captain of the Islanders. He played 142 games on Long Island, accumulating 80 points (39 goals, 41 assists), before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2009 trade deadline, where he’d go on to win his second Stanley Cup.
While most are excited about the return of international hockey beginning next year, some current NHL superstars, most notably David Pastrnak, are unhappy that only four countries will be represented.
“It’s a huge disappointment,” Pastrnak said Monday. “I don’t know much I can say. Definitely not happy about it. I understand that it’s a quick turnaround. It’s next year. They probably didn’t have much time to make it a bigger tournament.
“But Czech isn’t there. So it’s always a lot of players left out, so I’m not gonna watch the tournament, to be honest. So just happy that the Olympics got accepted. Yeah, [it] definitely stings a little bit.”
It appears as if there’s only one current Islander that will be considered for Guerin’s Team USA roster for the 4 Nations or the 2026 Olympics, with that being Brock Nelson. Nelson has scored 37 and 36 goals, respectively, the last two seasons, and is on pace for 34 this season. Nelson will be 33 years old at the time of next year's tournament, and centers like Jack Hughes, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, and Dylan Larkin may be more highly coveted than the lifelong Islander.