Hlinka Gretzky Cup hockey tournament cancelled because of COVID-19 pandemic

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The Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a tournament featuring the world’s top under-18 male hockey players, has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight-country tournament was scheduled for Aug. 3-8 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.

“Although this was a difficult decision to make, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone involved given the uncertainty at this time,” Hockey Canada said in a statement Tuesday.

“The health and safety of players, staff, officials, fans, family, volunteers and the general public is of the utmost importance to Hockey Canada.”

READ MORE: Virus expert says NHL return would require fast and frequent testing, no fans

Many players don’t participate in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s men’s world under-18 championship in April because it conflicts with playoffs in their respective leagues, so the Hlinka Gretzky Cup is an important tournament for NHL scouts.

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Canada has won 10 of the last 12 tournaments, but fell 3-2 to Russia in last year’s final in Breclav, Czech Republic.

Formerly the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament co-hosted by Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Hockey Canada entered into a revenue-sharing arrangement with those hockey federations to rebrand the tournament and bring it to Canada in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Edmonton and Red Deer are also the host cities of the 2021 world under-20 men’s championship scheduled to open Dec. 26.

Watch below: (From June 26, 2018) The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is one of the best international hockey tournaments in the world and this year, it’s coming to Edmonton and Red Deer. Hockey Canada’s Dean McIntosh and Kevin Lowe with the Oilers Entertainment Group share more details.

Hlinka Gretzky Cup brings the top under-18 hockey players to Alberta
Hlinka Gretzky Cup brings the top under-18 hockey players to Alberta