Earlier today, IIHF executives, President Luc Tardif, and Regional Vice President and Chairman of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Directorate Henrik Bach Nielsen, had the chance to sit down with the media prior to the World Junior medal games in Edmonton, discussing the status of the organization and it’s plans going forward. Topics varied from the status of tournaments cancelled due to COVID-19, the current status of Hockey Canada, their financial position, and the future outlook of the organization and future tournaments. As mentioned in an earlier piece, Tardif also discussed the suspension of the Russian Belarusian teams for the 2022-23 season, adding that future suspensions would be determined on a year-by-year basis going forward.
Firstly, the pair discussed the choice to schedule the makeup men’s World Juniors to August, acknowledging that the timing might have been less than ideal, but that it was the only time it would have made sense to hold it. Bach Nielsen added that where it mattered most, it was a success, considering the tournament happened in full without any COVID cases. They also discussed looking forward to the upcoming 2023 men’s World Juniors in Halifax and Moncton, confident the tournament should return to what it has been, evidenced by the nearly 50,000 fans who entered the priority draw to purchase tickets for the games. In regards to other cancelled events, only three tournaments from the previous year’s IIHF calendar remain, including next week’s Women’s World Championships, with all expected to be completed by the end of September.
When asked about the financial burden the IIHF is experiencing in light of COVID-19 and all pof the changes that were made, Bach Nielsen stated that the organization is in good financial shape, citing their ability to spend less during these times as a reason for their healthy financial status. Bach Nielsen did add that the more concerning loss from the COVID years is a lack of development on the ice. When asked about the allegations against Hockey Canada, the pair indicated the IIHF had submitted an inquiry to Hockey Canada and was hopeful the investigation would continue, but made clear the IIHF has not yet initiated its own investigation.
Lastly, Tardif touched on the number of teams in different tournaments, including the men’s World Juniors. Tardif didn’t explicitly say whether or not an increase from the current ten-team slate is or isn’t in the plans, but attributed the tournament’s recent success to having only ten teams. On the other hand, he expressed interest in another increase to the number of teams in the Women’s World Championships, which had increased already from eight teams to ten back in 2019.
Today’s meeting with the media was far from ground breaking, however that may be the best thing possible for the organization. Given the financial hardship that the pandemic has put on just about every industry, and the forced cancellations the IIHF has endured, to see that the organization is doing well financially, understands just why the summer World Juniors weren’t perfect, but has a confident outlook on the future is perhaps the best news that could have come from today’s availability.