It wasn’t how most observers predicted, but relatively unknown Luc Tardif, 68, is the new president of the ice hockey’s World governing body, the IIHF. He succeeds René Fasel, the Swiss dentist who held the office since 1994.
Luc Tardif has been the head of French ice hockey for 21 years, but he was born in Trois-Rivières, a hockey town of 120.000 people, some 140 kilometres northeast of Montreal. He moved to France in 1975 and is a dual French and Canadian citizen.
Tardif thus becomes the 14th IIHF President and the second from France after founding president Louis Magnus (1908-1912).
He was elected to the IIHF Council in 2012 and became the federation’s treasurer. Tardif had held a relatively low profile and he was the last of the five presidential candidates to declare his candidacy. Leading up to the congress in St. Petersburg, most experts held Franz Reindl from Germany as the favourite.
But for each election round that passed, Tardif gathered more and more votes and when Belarusian Sergej Gontcharov was eliminated in the third round, the Frenchman had a solid lead over Reindl who needed basically all of Gontcharov’s votes to overtake Tardif.
In the end, it wasn’t even close as Tardif won 67-39. So, for the first time in 27 years, the international ice hockey community had a new leader. It can be noted that in 1994, when René Fasel began his reign, the internet was barely known and during the 27 years, the USA has had five presidents and the Vatican three Popes.
In his spontaneous acceptance speech, Luc Tardif said:
“René Fasel asked me eight years ago to be the treasurer. But I am still a hockey guy and I know I can offer more. I only have my determination, my crazy passion for this sport, my sense of teamwork, my respect for the people and my honesty to offer. Believe me, I will do everything to be at the level of your expectations. I’m committed to open up our beautiful sport, to promote it, to defend it, to prepare it for the future, but above all to respect it with dignity.”
In his manifesto before the election, Luc Tardif listed ten principles that he is committed to. Among them: assuring the right balance between high-level and development, to widely promote ice hockey in the world, transparent governance that promotes diversity and social mix and have proper coordination of the various stakeholders in the sport; the IOC, NHL, NHLPA, KHL, European leagues and others.
Maybe the last principle about coordinating the various stakeholders will be where Tardif may differ in his approach from his predecessor. As a consequence of the newly won presidency, Tardif will step down from his position at the French Ice Hockey Federation.
For other positions on the IIHF Council:
Petr Bříza, CZE, was elected as Senior Vice-President, and the Regional Vice-Presidents elected were Bob Nicholson, CAN, (Americas), Aivaz Omorkanov, Kyrgyzstan, (Asia & Oceania) and Henrik Bach Nielsen, DEN, (Europe & Africa).
Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer, HUN, and Marta Zawadzka, POL, were re-elected as female Council members. In the first round for the remaining positions Heikki Hietanen, FIN, Anders Larsson, SWE, Pavel Bure, RUS, Raeto Raffainer, SUI, and Andrea Gios, ITA, were elected with a majority with two positions open for a second round. Franz Reindl, GER, was elected in the second round and Viesturs Koziols, LAT, in the third round.