QUEBEC CITY – May 15, 2008 is the 100th birthday of the International Ice Hockey Federation, and there’s much to celebrate when you consider how the organization has grown since its humble beginnings.
It originally came together thanks to the initiative of a French journalist named Louis Magnus, who was perturbed by the differences he’d observed in hockey rules and how they were interpreted in different nations. A game in Les Avants, Switzerland, on January 15, 1905, brought that to his attention, and he wrote a column for the Bulletin du Club des Patineurs de Paris, stating: “It would be wise to find a solution for the unification of the rules of hockey. The question is being studied and we hope to bring a solution this year.”
Since the International Ice Skating Union wasn’t interested in addressing the issues, Magnus ultimately decided to form his own federation dedicated to ice hockey, La Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG). It was the forerunner of today’s IIHF.
The founding Congress of the LIHG was held at a sports club at 34 rue de Provence in Paris, France, on May 15 and 16, 1908.
Representing France were Magnus and two fellow executives of the Club des Patineurs de Paris, Robert Planque and Robert van der Hoeven. For Switzerland, it was Eduard Mellor and Louis Dufour; for Belgium, Eddie De Clercq and Eduard Malaret; and for Great Britain, E.E. Mavrogodato of the National Skating Association.
Magnus was chosen as the first president of the LIHG and Planque became the first general secretary. Later that year, Bohemia became the LIHG’s fifth member.
How times have changed. Today, as the governing body of hockey worldwide, the IIHF has 65 member associations. It oversees international player transfers, cares for officiating standards and rulebooks, and promotes the sport worldwide with development programs. The IIHF also organizes hockey at the Olympic Games and World Championships for men, women, juniors under-20, juniors under-18, women under-18 (about 25 World Championships each year in total), and several international club competitions.
It is a pleasure to celebrate the IIHF’s 100th birthday in Quebec City, which was founded 400 years ago by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain. If only Louis Magnus, another great French visionary, could see how far our beautiful sport has come.