Exclusive: ‘Player safety’ Critical to Growing Ice Hockey, Declares IIHF President
By Community | December 17, 2012
Re-elected for another term as President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in September, allergist Dr Rene Fasel has formulated a strategy to address numerous points to develop the game around the globe, order with player safety being the primary objective.
“We have to make sure the game is played fair, that it is safe. Many perceive hockey is a violent sport, which it clearly is not. I want to change those people’s perception, so they see hockey as the fun and educational sport it really is. Mothers should not hesitate to send their kids to hockey practice,” told iSportconnect.
“We have implemented a player safety working group, which will be a combined effort between the IIHF, the NHL and the NHLPA and will look at various ways – be it changes to rules, equipment or age limits – to improve this aspect of the game.”
The current image of ice hockey as a violent sport, constantly interrupted by outbreaks of brawls, is a perception that has longed discouraged parents outside the usual strongholds of the United States, Canada, Scandinavia and Russia from permitting their children from taking up the sport.
With the untapped opportunities in Asia, ensuring that the sport’s nonviolent nature transmits through to the public is vital in activating such potential.
Any chance of success is dependent on drilling the ‘player-safety’ message into the sport’s the most renowned entity, National Hockey League (NHL), but while the League continues its squabbles and remains locked-out, focus will shift to Europe and the developing Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Currently, the KHL have imported stars from the NHL on rolling-contracts, providing an ideal opportunity to market the league and expand its fan base across the continent.
The next four years in office will the last for ice hockey’s first ever representative in the IOC, having served for eighteen years. That being, the staff should expect a ‘very pushy’ administrator, as Fasel continues to battle evils, such as match-fixing and doping, and grow the sport around the world.