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Major international hockey events are coming to Alberta (and maybe Calgary, if the arena’s ready)

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Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Prior to Saturday night’s clash between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, Hockey Canada unveiled a portion of their upcoming calendar for international events the federation is hosting in coming years.
Specifically, a bunch of big events are coming to Alberta. Some have been specifically allocated to Edmonton, while the locales for some of the future events have been left a bit fuzzy. If the new Calgary arena is ready in time, there’s a good chance it may help host some big tournaments.
Here’s what Hockey Canada announced:
The first two tournaments will take place in 2024: the World Para Hockey Championship at WinSport Arena in Calgary from May 4-12 and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup at Rogers Place in Edmonton from Aug. 5-10.
Alberta will also host Rivalry Series games in 2025 and 2026, the 2026 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2027 IIHF World Junior Championship.
At the end of the release, Hockey Canada disclosed that “Locations for events being hosted beyond 2024 will be shared at a later date.”
For those who aren’t familiar with international hockey, here’s a quick primer:
  • The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is the beginning of the scouting season, and serves as the first look for most of the upcoming draft class.
  • The Rivalry Series features Canada’s national women’s team playing against other top teams, usually the United States, and has a floating schedule that tends to slot in around whatever else is going on in women’s hockey – like the PWHL, the Olympics, World Championships, and so on.
  • The World Juniors run every holiday season, starting on Boxing Day, and feature the top under-20 men’s players on the planet.
Now, why weren’t host cities announced for the events after 2024? Well, some of it may be because Calgary’s arena timelines are just now coming into focus. Here’s what we found in the Project Framework Agreement regarding when the arena will be done:
The “scheduled substantial completion date” in this agreement is targeted as Aug. 31, 2026. (Amending the project schedule to change that date is labelled as a “Major Decision.”)
If you’re the skeptical type, you may note that isn’t really a deadline or a hard target. At the press conference announcing the deal back in the fall, there were various levels of confidence expressed in getting the arena completed by Summer 2026 – the reason for that was pretty simple: they hadn’t built out construction timelines yet.
So will the Calgary arena be ready for Summer 2026? The short answer is “it depends,” and any number of factors could cause things to slide a bit. The 2026 Hlinka Gretzky Cup would be in August 2026 while the 2027 World Juniors – the year indicates when the gold medal game happens – would start in December 2026.
Rogers Place in Edmonton had a March 2014 ground-breaking and opened in September 2016, needing three full construction seasons to be completed. The Calgary arena’s ground-breaking is tentatively set for after the 2024 Stampede, but how far after the Stampede is yet to be determined – the City’s official timeline from their website is “Summer/Fall 2024.
Could the arena be ready for Summer 2026? If they need three full construction seasons, it seems unlikely. The folks involved are not going to rush things or cut corners, but if they do manage to get the building online before the end of 2026, Hockey Canada has a couple exciting hockey events that could be a nice way to showcase the building.
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