Luc Tardif wants to keep a "family mentality" in the IIHF that is "well balanced" ©Getty Images

Luc Tardif is counting on his experience with the French Ice Hockey Federation (FFHG) and with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), notably as its treasurer, as he bids to become the President of the international governing body.

A former champion at University level in Canada and a professional player across 16 years in Europe, Tardif won seven national titles in France and Belgium and was the league top scorer in six seasons.

Since retirement, he has served as the head of French ice hockey for 21 years, firstly within the French Federation of Ice Sports and as President of the stand-alone FFHG since 2006.

Tardif believes his broad range of experience across the sport has equipped him with the necessary skills to become IIHF President.

"I think it should be the first step, gaining the experience of what is a difficult job as the President of a federation because it gives you a better idea of what they [a National Federation] need," he said in an interview with insidethegames.

"In France, we created the Federation, because we were inside the Ice Sports Federation until 2006.

"I convinced the Sport Minister at the time to let us create our Federation, so that means we're only really a baby Federation as 2006 makes us quite young.

"That means you have to build stone-by-stone, which has been interesting, and when you start from zero and have to build the Federation, you gain experience around other Federations."

He served on the IIHF Competition Committee from 2008 to 2012, and since then has been a member of the IIHF Council, Executive Committee and as its treasurer.

"My first step in the IIHF was in the Competition Committee," Tardif said.

"I've got experience as I worked for 30 years at a big construction company, so René Fasel [IIHF President since 1994] said to me 'would you like to be treasurer?'

"I prefer the sport side, but I can do it and I agreed to become treasurer, which was a good experience because we had a lot to do.

"The Swiss law is really strict, so it gives you directly an idea of your financial resources and also what you can do with your human resources because the two are connected.

"When you're treasurer, you're in the Executive Committee, so that means you're in the heart of all the operations of the IIHF, including the negotiations with Infront Sports and Media [the IIHF's media and marketing partners until 2033], with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) every four years for the Olympic Games, and with National Hockey League (NHL) and the NHL Players' Association.

"That means you're in the middle of everything, so it gives you experience working closely with the President, and in fact, that's why it took a little bit of time to jump in the competition because I know it's a huge job."

Ice hockey features at the Winter Olympic Games, while the three-on-three format featured at the Youth Olympics in Lausanne in 2020 ©Getty Images
Ice hockey features at the Winter Olympic Games, while the three-on-three format featured at the Youth Olympics in Lausanne in 2020 ©Getty Images

Tardif's campaign includes 10 principles and 10 priorities.

Included in his principles is placing member federations and associations at the heart of the IIHF, placing emphasis on the need to listen.

Tardif stressed: "We have to remember that the Federations are our stakeholders."

This, he hopes, can strengthen the "IIHF family", providing federations with an opportunity to interact with the President and Council members on a more regular basis.

Tardif believes that the use of video conferencing software can help with this, having used such technology during his campaign to overcome travel difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was the last one to be a candidate, so it was not easy - I had two or three months in front of me to do a campaign without the possibility to travel, so I decided to do a kind of virtual world tour," he said.

"I started to organise a video conference of one hour, sometimes an hour and a half, with all the federations.

"They gave us feedback on the mandate of the last four years that we've just finished, with open questions in order for us to listen to them about what they would like.

"And then I did some tests with a basic programme, ideas and proposals [for his Presidential campaign] to gauge the feeling they had about it, so that was interesting.

"During the summer, that's not easy, people are not always close to the rink, they're more likely to be on the beach!

"But I spent 90 hours discussing with member national associations (MNAs), which was really interesting."

The IIHF Presidential candidate also vowed to promote ice hockey across the world in one of his principles.

Ideas in his top priorities include securing a larger budget for the day-to-day MNA development, creating a solidarity fund for temporary financial difficulties in Federations and continuing to promote the sport in Asia, following on from the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018 and the upcoming Games in Beijing next February.

Luc Tardif has been President of the French Ice Hockey since it became a stand-alone organisation in 2006 ©Getty Images
Luc Tardif has been President of the French Ice Hockey since it became a stand-alone organisation in 2006 ©Getty Images

"There are 22 federations in Asia, so that means we have to maybe reflect that a little bit more," said Tardif.

"It was interesting to see that when you start a Federation in a place without a strong ice hockey history, it's difficult to get a rink first and then to get enough ice time to compete or organise your federation.

"There are places where it's difficult to imagine there is ice hockey, but they are doing well and working hard.

"So my first reflection was that the IIHF family has changed, and after that, I asked myself, 'do we do enough to help them to organise hockey?'"

Tardif also hopes to promote balance across ice hockey, as he says larger federations' support of developing federations is one of the sport's distinguishing features.

"We need to keep the balance between the development and the high level," he said.

"First of all, we have to ask ourselves 'are we helping enough?'

"My position is I think we can do more, and we can see it as an investment for the future.

"I think we need to do more with the financial, human and logistical resources we've got, because that is the meaning of the international in our name.

"At the moment, most of our financial resources are coming from the World Championship, the under-22s and the Olympic Games.

"That means the higher level and top World Championship teams feed financially all the other divisions and events.

"There are more mouths to feed, like the women's game, the under-18s and the under-20s, so we have to take care of each other.

"It's important to give respect because one of the fantastic things we do in the IIHF is have the higher levels feeding the lower levels, which is not the same in every sport.

"We have to keep this family mentality, but make sure it's well balanced."

René Fasel has been IIHF President since 1994, but his replacement will be elected in Saint Petersburg later this month ©Getty Images
René Fasel has been IIHF President since 1994, but his replacement will be elected in Saint Petersburg later this month ©Getty Images

Planning for the future of ice hockey is also a key priority of Tardif's were he to become President, and he explained that there is work that can be done with different formats of ice hockey to help widen the sport's audience and increase the number of people playing the sport globally.

"I really think there is something we can do with the three-on-three format," he said.

"It's a possibility to knock at the door of the IOC.

"I'm on the Board of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), so I've watched closely and know we've had a lot of discussions, for example we sent two teams in the three-on-three basketball this year [at Tokyo 2020].

"There's also the rugby sevens at the Olympic Games, so I think we should experiment.

"That's what we did at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne in 2020 when we had two 3x3 tournaments.

"It should be good for a developing country to start with too, because it's easier than getting a full 25 players together.

"3x3 allows the kids to play twice a day as it takes a shorter time, so I think we should experiment and not be conservative about it."

Germany’s Franz Reindl, Czech Republic’s Petr Bříza, Belarus’ Sergej Gontcharov and Denmark's Henrik Bach Nielsen are also standing for election, and Tardif agreed that the election has been held in the right spirit.

"I think we can be positive for the next mandate," he said.

"We've already made some decisions together about after the election - that's what happened when we had to negotiate the contract with InFront, and it gives us common ways to work.

"That's normal, because you've got a President [Fasel] who's been there for 27 years.

"It's probably going to be a little bit different afterwards, but I'm completely sure that is not going to be a problem.

"And the contest is very like ice hockey - there is a competition, but sometimes you can drink a beer together afterwards, that's not a problem!"

When asked about the biggest strength he could offer the role, Tardif concluded that his experience as treasurer would be invaluable.

"From a treasurer's perspective, I think I can help keep people's needs in balance, and make sure our expenses are efficient," he said.

"We have to keep the balance between high level sport and development, and as the International Federation, it would help if we approach that in a diplomatic way.

"And maybe with my experience as a treasurer, it gives me another pair of eyes on what we can do and what we'd like to do."

The winner of the IIHF Presidential election is due to be decided at the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in Saint Petersburg on Saturday September 25.