Beyond the Bleachers with IIHF President Rene Fasel

Alan BassSenior Writer IJanuary 19, 2009

I recently had a chance to sit down with the International Ice Hockey Foundation President, Rene Fasel, and speak to him about his job. Fasel is basically the Gary Bettman of International Hockey. He has been in that position for over 10 years now, and the IIHF has flourished under his rule.

Here is the transcript of my interview with Mr. Fasel.


1. As the President of the IIHF, please explain your position, and the various duties your position dictates.

ANSWER: As the president, I chair the IIHF congresses—our highest legislative body—and all council meetings. The council is our executive body. I also represent the IIHF in all external matters and I am responsible for that all decisions are taken in accordance to the IIHF statutes and bylaws.


2. What is your opinion on fighting in hockey?

ANSWER: Staged fighting between two so called enforcers is totally obsolete and has nothing to do with hockey. After the death of Don Sanderson on Jan. 2, we also know that fighting can be fatal. And here is proof that no one needs it—there is no fighting in the Olympics and in the World Juniors and North American hockey fans love those events. According to me, fighting is Neanderthal behavior.


3. How do you feel about the NHL not planning to participate in the 2014 Olympics in Russia?

ANSWER: That's not really true, they are not planning. They are maybe thinking about it. The point is that the NHL is not alone here, the NHLPA has a big say in this and the players want to play in the Olympics. The NHL can not unilaterally pull out of this. Also, what the NHL realizes is that with no Olympic participation there won't be any World Cup of Hockey. So I am not really worried.


4. Are there any rule changes in hockey that you would like to see happen?

ANSWER: We have had quite a few in the last 10-15 years and I like our rules and interpretations. Maybe we will consider the rule that doesn't allow a line change after icing the puck. They already have it in the NHL, also in the Swedish and Swiss leagues.


5. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

ANSWER: I am a very fortunate man, my job has only good parts.

6. As a kind of mediator between the two leagues, how do you respond to the tension between the NHL and the KHL?

ANSWER: There is nothing strange with this. There is a new player in the game who is considered as somewhat of a threat and this always leads to tensions in the beginning. Already for next season I foresee normal relations.


7. What advice do you have for kids who are hoping to rise to a similar position that you have?

ANSWER: If you can't be a player, be a leader and try to stay involved as much as you can. You need to have passion and you need to have ideas. Finally, you need luck. Lot's of it. 


Mr. Fasel gave me some great answers, and truly helped give me a greater understanding as to how the IIHF works, and perhaps what plans he has for the future.

I want to thank Mr. Fasel for taking the time to speak with me, and I also want to thank Yves Vonlanthan, his assistant, for arranging the interview for me.