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The World Cup of Hockey is coming back, so let's just forget about the Olympics

An international hockey tournament that takes place on our continent on our terms is exactly what we need to not feel guilty about getting out of the Olympic Games.

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It's time, NHL fans, to give up caring about the Olympics.

The NHL, NHLPA and IIHF are close to bringing back the World Cup of Hockey, according to John Shannon of Sportsnet. The groups are meeting in New York City and have been discussing this possibility since the last lockout came to an end in 2013.

You might think it's crazy for the NHL to potentially give up on the Olympics because it's given us so many tremendous games since pros became part of it in 1998, but after the time-shifting awkwardness Sochi provided and the next two Olympics set to occur in Korea in 2018 and either Kazakhstan or China in 2022, the time for the NHL to take a break from the Olympics and do the international thing themselves is now.

The World Cup of Hockey isn't a new thing by any stretch. There were World Cups in 1996 and 2004 and prior to that the Canada Cup ran from 1976-91. Some unforgettable memories were created at these tournaments.

In 1996, Mike Richter, Brett Hull, John LeClair, and Brian Leetch helped the United States defeat Canada to win gold. That USA team is credited with lighting the fire that helped inspire many of the top young American players now.

The 1987 Canada Cup saw Canada defeat the Soviet Union in three games, all of which had 6-5 final scores. Canada's roster was absurdly loaded with Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Raymond Bourque and Paul Coffey headlining a team that featured 12 Hall of Famers.

These teams and these results have created memories that have sustained generations now and they all took place before NHL training camps opened up. Is there a better way to gear up for a new season than having a massive tournament with bragging rights for your country on the line? I think not.

Some may say the World Cup of Hockey isn't as big a deal as the Olympics or even compare it to the FIFA World Cup. Comparing anything to the single biggest sports tournament in the world is unfair, but there's a benefit for the NHL to having the World Cup instead of the Olympics.

With pros being (likely) taken out of the Olympic Games, that means amateurs would head to Korea and that gives the young guys a chance to shine on an even bigger stage. That kind of experience is invaluable and, perhaps more importantly, won't cause the NHL to interrupt their own season for three weeks to make it all happen.

Change is scary, we get that, but embracing the World Cup will be a good thing to do. It'll give all the same feelings of nationalistic pride and jingoism you get with the Olympics and leads into all the uninterrupted NHL action one could want as well as none of the gross entanglements that come with the IOC.