The International Ice Hockey Federation will continue to hold the men's World Championships as an annual event, IIHF president René Fasel announced on Thursday morning.
Fasel opened the 137th IIHF congress in Cascais, Portugal and explained that the World Championships would be played annually, even in Olympic years. The event will be held in the first week of May, but will be scheduled in relation to the Olympics during years when the games are held.
In addition, the tournament will continue to include 16 teams and will likely continue use of four teams per four groups. The quarterfinal round will continue use of a cross-over format, which involves the following structure, via the IIHF:
The first-place team in each Qualification Round group plays the fourth-place team from the other group, while the second-place team plays the third-place team from the other Qualification Round group. 1E-4F, 2E-3F, 1F-4E, 2F-3E. The winning teams advance to the semi-finals.
Fasel also thanked the NHL and NHL Players' Association for their part in negotiating the availability of NHL players for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. It is his hope that the IIHF will be able to sit down with the NHL and NHLPA shortly after Sochi to begin discussing future NHL involvement, via the IIHF:
"And very shortly after Sochi, we would like to sit down with our friends and partners with the league and the player's union to discuss NHL participation also in PyeongChang, Korea in 2018."
Whether this will be a negotiable topic for the NHL remains to be seen. Chris Botta of the Sports Business Journal reported earlier in September that the NHL has aggressive plans for international expansion, which includes the return of the World Cup and a proposed Champions League-type tournament. If that's the case, it might end the league's involvement in the Olympics considering the NHL doesn't receive many benefits from the games (in previous years they couldn't even get seats to watch their own players play) and there are only so many days in the year to play games.
Of course, that's merely speculative.