|NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be one of several guests during a hockey summit in Toronto this week. (QMI Agency/Lyle Aspinall)
Unlike the last big summit held in downtown Toronto, the presence of this group of leaders won't likely be causing mass protests in the streets.
Which isn't to say the speakers and audience at the Molson Canadian Hockey Summit aren't going to offer some revolutionary ideas where the sport is concerned. Some of the most influential names in the game will gather this week for seminars to dissect a number of controversial topics.
The theme is “Global teamwork promoting growth of the game,” but there have been some strained relationships between the International Ice Hockey Federation and the National Hockey League on a few fronts, particularly since the Kontinental Hockey League arrived a few years ago. Future NHL Olympic participation is also up for debate with the 2014 games set for Sochi, Russia.
The high cost of playing hockey will be of interest to many in the audience from these shores, with the world’s economy still in turmoil.
“I would say there are no concrete objectives,” NHL deputy Bill Daly said. “All the decision makers in the world of hockey are here and any time you share the stage dialogue can only be good.”
Among the guests will be NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, IIHF president Rene Fasel, KHL president Alexander Medvedev and many coaches and players on both sides of the Atlantic. The six sessions are:
Player skill development
Tuesday morning at the Air Canada Centre.
The best way to give kids a proper setting in which to learn the game and maintain interest to adulthood. Many parents and youngsters have concerns about safety and proper coaching in games and practices at a time when registration in general is being challenged by other sports and general high costs.
Speakers will include Dr. Steve Norris, Director of Sport Physiology and Strategic Planning at the Canadian Sport Centre and Dr. Mark Aubry, Chief Medical Officer of the IIHF and Hockey Canada. Panelists include Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette, the NHL’s new vice president of hockey and business development, Brendan Shanahan, and former Memorial Cup winning coach Bob Boughner.
Tuesday afternoon, Air Canada Centre.
This will examine the fallout for young players from the world junior tournament and the NHL draft.
The impact of more Europeans leaving home and entering the Canadian Hockey League will be covered, as well as better promoting the world juniors on the other side of the pond.
Slavomir Lerner, head coach of the Czech National Team and Canada’s Murray Costello, an IIHF vice president, will be keynote speakers. Panelists include Buffalo Sabres’ general manager Darcy Regier, Tommy Boustedt, director of hockey development and national teams for Sweden and Kelly McCrimmon, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ GM and coach.
2010 Olympics evaluation
Wednesday morning at the Sheraton Centre.
What worked and what didn’t, from television coverage, to splitting the profit pie, to NHL participation and the differences in Olympic and NHL-sized ice. Canada went home happy, but did everyone else?
Rene Fasel, the IIHF president, will faceoff in the speaker’s chair with John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.
Panelists will be Olympic managers and players Ken Holland, Daniel Alfredsson and Jamie Langenbrunner.
Global event agenda
Wednesday afternoon, Sheraton Centre.
A subject that gets Leafs GM Brian Burke boiling. He’s upset that NHL players are not properly compensated for agreeing to appear in the world championships and Olympics, Which puts him against some Europeans who can’t understand why Canadians and Americans would not want to play for their country anytime, anywhere.
The future of the next World Cup of hockey will be discussed, as well as the romantic notion of having the Stanley Cup winners play the European club champions.
Debating will be Burke, Daly, Medvedev and Euro scout and ex-player Anders Hedberg.
Thursday morning, Sheraton Centre.
For too long, the big tournaments have been a Canada-U.S. showdown with only a bronze medal for all other countries to fight over. Closing the gap, increasing registration and getting a proper blueprint for all countries is essential if the women’s game is to stay in the Olympics.
Hayley Wickenheiser will lead a discussion of players and coaches from Canada, the U.S., Finland and Sweden.
Thursday afternoon, Sheraton Centre.
A huge round table will tackle how to improve player recruitment around the world, with input from Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, European nations and Toronto sports psychologist Paul Dennis.