The NHL and its players' association announced Wednesday that ESPN will carry next year's World Cup of Hockey in the United States, confirming a TSN report last month.
The tournament is scheduled for Sept. 17 through Oct. 1 of 2016 and will bring together the national teams of six world hockey powers, plus two other mixed teams, at Air Canada Centre in Canada.
Most popular sports stories
"We anticipate a remarkable event," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on a conference call. "The hockey will be fantastic."
ESPN has been accused for the past decade of shortchanging hockey in its news and highlights because it no longer has a rights deal with the NHL, so the sport's return to the network even on a limited basis is noteworthy.
Bettman said he viewed the tournament as a chance to "rekindle" the league's relationship with ESPN.
"The place is electric with excitement about getting back into hockey," ESPN president John Skipper said. "We have a lot of hockey fans here."
Going with ESPN meant not signing with NBC, the NHL's partner for the past decade.
"We have a terrific relationship with NBC," Bettman said. "We love the way they cover our game and the way they have treated us throughout our relationship."
He cited "scheduling issues" that in part made partnering with ESPN more suitable, and he noted every other major U.S. pro league has partnerships with more than one TV network.
"Despite suggestions and rumors to the contrary, we have continued to maintain an excellent relationship with NBC," Bettman said. "There were no points of friction or hard feelings."
Skipper said he has discussed the matter with NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus and said ESPN can help promote the start of the NHL season that follows the tournament.
The event will feature round-robin play followed by a semifinal and a best-of-three final. The national teams represented will be the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.
There also will be a Team Europe and a Team North American Young Stars.