Finally, Canada bronzed

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Canada won a bronze medal less than an hour before the 2005 IIHF World Hockey Championships began here yesterday.

The 1964 bronze medal.

Father David Bauer's national team from the 1964 Olympic Winter Games and world championships, it was announced at a pre-game press conference, will be awarded a set of bronze medals from the event 41 years after the fact.

"This is Canada's first time back in Innsbruck since 1964,'' said Murray Costello of Hockey Canada, pointing out that Canada, due to a dispute about professionalism, didn't send a team to the subsequent 1976 Winter Olympics here.

"We applaud the IIHF for being big enough to correct an oversight,'' he said of righting a long-ago wrong.

In a statement issued at the press conference, IIHF president Rene Fasel said it was the only thing to do.

REGRET THE OVERSIGHT

"I'm glad the Canadian team will receive their overdue bronze medals. While we regret the oversight, it is heartening to see that all these years later the team will receive the credit they deserve for their bronze-medal performance.''

The team - Ken Broderick, Seth Martin, Henry Akervall, Barry McKenize, Terry O'Malley, Rod Seiling, Gary Begg, Gary Dineen, George Swarbrick, Roger Bourbonais, Terry Clancy, Brian Conacher, Ray Cadieux, Paul Conlin, Bob Forhan and Marshall Johnson - get identical medals.

Bourbonais is a former Edmonton Oil King, and Conacher a former WHA Oiler who managed Edmonton Northlands for several years.

All but Akervall are still alive.

"The team was told after their last game to come back after the gold- medal game to get their medals. Instead they gave them a partipation sheet. A lot of the players tore them up and threw them away,'' said Costello.

Costello said research for a documentary proved that there were two sets of rules for settling a tie - a tie like the one Canada and the Czechs were in at the end of the round-robin standings.

Back then, the Olympics and world championships were the same event.

INVENTED NEW RULES?

But, whether then-IIHF president Bunny Ahearne invented some new rules on the spot or not, Canada should have won the bronze, according to the world championship rules.

Czechoslovakia, which did beat Canada in its game during the tournament, was named winner of the Olympic bronze on a points for-against basis. Canada was under the impression that criteria wouldn't be used.

"We don't know if it was decided by an individual (Ahearne) or in a meeting room,'' said Costello. "We don't know who made the decision.''

Canada did not dispute the Olympic rule in which Czechoslovakia was declared bronze- medal winners behind the Soviet Union and Sweden, who were Olympic and world championships gold-and silver-medal winners respectively.


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