Hiti, Kasatonov, Suchy, Bush & Schell to IIHF Hall of Fame
ZURICH – The 2009 IIHF Hall of Fame will induct five new members on May 5th in Bern, Switzerland. Rudi Hiti (SLO), Alexei Kasatonov (RUS) and Jan Suchy (CZE) will be added to the players’ category. Walter Bush Jr. (USA) will be honored as builder while Hungarian referee Laszlo Schell completes the class. The IIHF Hall of Fame has grown to include 155 greats from 22 countries.
The ceremony will see two of international hockey’s greatest defensemen being honored, with Jan Suchy and Alexei Kasatonov joining the IIHF Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will as usual also include the prestigious Paul Loicq Award, presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the IIHF and international ice hockey. The 2009 prize has been awarded to Harald Griebel of Infront Sports and Media. The Paul Loicq Award is named after the Belgian who was the IIHF’s President for 25 years (1922-1947).
The induction ceremony will take place on May 5, 2009 in Berne, Switzerland at the 73rd IIHF World Championship (April 24 – May 10).
“I would like to congratulate the IIHF Hall of Fame committee and its chairman Tony Rossi on an excellent selection,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “Jan Suchy defined the position of the offensive defenseman in international hockey at the end of the 60s while Alexei Kasatonov was the ‘good conscience’ of the famous Larionov-unit in the 80s, taking care of the defensive responsibilities.”
Coincidentally, Suchy’s induction will take place in the same city where he 38 years ago was named ‘Best Defenseman’ at the 1971 IIHF World Championship.
“Rudi Hiti and Laszlo Schell are representatives of the smaller IIHF nations, where so many great players and officials have performed outstanding roles, without ever getting rightful credit. It is very fitting that the IIHF Hall of Fame recognizes their accomplishments,” Fasel said.
“I simply cannot say enough about Walter Bush. One thing is for sure, international hockey wouldn’t be what it is today without his impact. I doubt women’s hockey would be an Olympic sport today had Walter not pushed so hard for it in the mid 90s,” said Fasel. “Over the course of the last 20-25 years, no hockey nation has improved internationally as much as the United States and the IIHF Hall of Fame committee’s decision credits this mainly to Walter’s tireless work.”
“I will be proud to induct this great quintet and to award Harald Griebel during the upcoming IIHF World Championship in Berne on May 5,” said the IIHF President.
Biographies of the inductees and the Paul Loicq Award winner:
Rudi Hiti is considered as the top Yugoslav/Slovenian player until Anze Kopitar came along. Despite mostly playing in the IIHF World Championship B-pools, Hiti displayed such skill that it caught the interest of the Chicago Blackhawks who invited him to training camp in 1970. Unfortunately, in his first NHL exhibition game, he broke his jaw and never got another chance.
Hiti represented his country in 17 IIHF World Championships and two Olympics (Grenoble 1968 and Sapporo 1972). He was named to the World Championship All-Star Team four times. Hiti played club hockey with HK Kranjska Gora, HK Jesenice, HK Olimpija Ljubljana before joining Italy’s and HC Alleghe and HC Bolzano.
He won four Slovenian/Yugoslav national championships and was an Italian champion three times. Hiti coached the Slovenian national team from 1991- 2000.
Alexei Kasatonov was the least noticeable in the Soviet famous “Green Unit” which featured Vyacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov. But it was Kasatonov who was responsible for the defense as they all – including defensive partner Fetisov – charged forward.
Kasatonov won five IIHF World Championship gold medals, two Olympic golds (Sarajevo 1984 and Calgary 1988), the 1981 Canada Cup and was named Best Defenseman of the 1983 IIHF World Championship. He won the Soviet national championship 11 times with CSKA Moscow, playing 576 games in the Soviet and Russian league, with 124 goals.
He played 127 national team games, recording 96 points. Kasatonov played seven seasons in the NHL, earning 171 points in 416 games and was the general manager of the Russian Olympic team that won the silver medal in Nagano 1998.
Jan Suchy was without any doubt the most outstanding international defenseman in the late 60s and early 70s. Suchy represented his country 160 times (five IIHF World Championships and the 1968 Olympics) and was the first in Europe to make shot blocking an art.
Suchy will be also remembered for his spectacular offensive game that prompted many to call him the “Bobby Orr of Europe”. He scored 44 goals for the national team and was named Best Defenseman at the 1969 and 1971 IIHF World Championship. In domestic competition, Suchy starred for Dukla Jihlava from 1963 – 1979 where he played in 562 games scoring 162 goals while winning seven championships.
Suchy spent his last five seasons in the Austrian and German leagues, before retiring in 1984.
Walter Bush Jr was an IIHF Council Member between 1986 and 2008. Mr. Bush was instrumental in the efforts that brought women’s hockey into the Olympic program in 1998. He was awarded with the Olympic Order in 2002 (IOC’s highest individual honor) and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 2000 and to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.
One of the most recognized and respected leaders in hockey, Bush is in his 50th year of service to USA Hockey. He is currently the organization’s chairman of the board, a position he assumed in June of 2003 after serving as the president of USA Hockey for nearly two decades.
Walter Bush was influential in bringing NHL hockey to his home state with the Minnesota North Stars, where he was part owner.
Laszlo Schell officiated more than 1,500 games in Hungary from 1967-1990. Schell was an IIHF linesman from 1977-1982. Schell set an unofficial IIHF record in 1977 when he officiated in 22 World Championship games in one season, on two levels. That year, Schell was the linesman in eleven Pool A games in Vienna and in as many in the B-Pool in Tokyo. Schell was one of the most utilized IIHF officials in the late 70s and early 80s, being assigned to 30 World Championship contests in Prague 1978, Moscow 1979 and Helsinki 1982. In the 1978 and 1982 events Schell called the final games.
(for special contributions to international hockey)
Harald Griebel (GER) was named the Paul Loicq Award winner for outstanding contributions to the IIHF and international hockey. Griebel worked for almost three decades with marketing and developing the IIHF World Championships in his executive position at Infront Sports and their predecessors CWL and Kirchsport. Harald was been part of every IIHF World Championship since 1981 and he has worked every top pool event since 1981 and also numerous B-pool and Olympic qualifiers. He officially retired at the age of 68 at the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Quebec City. It was under Harald Griebel’s supervision that the IIHF World Championships developed to one of the world’s most watched and attended team sport championships.