Among the topics discussed were the country’s plans to build 25 additional ice rinks in the country, a potential bid for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, and current issues within the Ukraine ice hockey landscape.
During the visit President Tardif met with Minister of Sports and Education Vadym Gutsait and Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine President Georgi Zubko, who informed Tardif of the country’s plans to add more than double the current number of arenas in the country. The new arena program is an initiative of the federation that was accepted by government.
“This is great news for ice hockey development in Ukraine,” said Tardif. “Ice time and availability is a challenge for many countries that are trying to take their programs to the next level, and we welcome this decision by the Ministry of Sport and Culture to commit to more infrastructure for ice hockey.”
A potential bid by Ukraine for the 2030 Winter Games was also discussed, although no further details were shared for the time being.
President Tardif also discussed the recent racism incident involving Ukraine ice hockey player Andri Denyskin and American player Jalen Smereck, which occurred during a UHL game on 26 September. The objective of the discussion was to address how the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine could adapt its rules to provide for wider sanctioning power in the future.
“We understand that the 13-game suspension handed down was the maximum allowed under the rules and has been fully served by the player,” said Tardif. “Nevertheless, we had a constructive discussion about the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine’s disciplinary policy and we also updated the federation on the status of the IIHF’s disciplinary procedures in the Denyskin incident.”
“In the meantime, President Zubko has clarified that they will keep the player from all national team competitions until the IIHF disciplinary procedures are concluded.”
President Tardif also addressed the ongoing dispute between the federation and relevant UHL clubs, some of whom encouraged players to withdraw from participating for the national team out of protest of the federation and have disregarded disciplinary sanctions by the federation. A separate meeting with all UHL clubs is set to be organized with representatives of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, the clubs, and the Ministry of Sport in January.
“In accordance with the IIHF statutes, the IIHF’s job is to ensure that IIHF member national associations have fair rules, that the rules are not arbitrarily applied, and that appropriate procedures respecting due process are in place when the federation’s rules are broken. As long as these points are met, the IIHF stands behind our member national association and here that’s the case.”
“Nevertheless, I applaud the decision of all stakeholders concerned here to try and find a way forward to resolve their disputes through direct discussions, rather than resorting to external organizations to step in. Ukraine has a rich and proud hockey history, and cooperation between federations, leagues, and clubs must be a top priority, not just within Ukraine but across the ice hockey family.”
Following the visit, President Tardif plans to travel to Russia to attend the World Hockey Forum and meeting with Russian ice hockey representatives ahead of plans to host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.