"President Sergej Goncharov" has a nice ring to it.
The Hockey News fully endorses Goncharov to replace outgoing president Rene Fasel this month in Russia to be the future leader of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
I first met Sergej in 2008 when I was the chairman of Bauer and I travelled to Minsk, Belarus. I was a guest of Igor Larionov and then-KHL president Alexander Medvedev as part of a travel team that included retired NHL greats Esa Tikkanen and Glenn Anderson.
During my tenure with Bauer and now as the owner of The Hockey News, Roustan Hockey, Christian Hockey and all of my hockey-related companies, I have had the privilege of calling Sergej a good friend. He has over 20 years of experience at the IIHF – most recently being elected and serving as chairman of the officiating committee – while working his way up the ladder and gaining tremendous experience and understanding of the hockey needs of every member country.
In some of my previous publisher's notes, I have criticized the IIHF for ineffective leadership when it really mattered and made it clear that they missed opportunities to take a global leadership role. It was sad for me to see just how political of an organization that it was.
Since I am a dual Canadian/USA citizen my loyalties will never be challenged when it comes to selecting the president of the IIHF because there are way too many countries in the IIHF that already see Canada and USA wielding too much power. Since those options are off the table, I am able to endorse the best candidate without regard to my home turf.
Having said that, the IIHF president needs to really have a great understanding of and relationship with Canada and the USA to be an effective leader of international hockey and there is no one with a better relationship in this regard than Sergej.
Although old guys in the IIHF will point to his “youth” as a negative, I see it as his greatest strength. Also, when 60-year-olds refer to leaders in their 30s as “youth”, it makes me cringe as it is always said out of fear of being obsolete. It’s a sign of insecurity on the part of the old guard.
The IIHF focuses on four-year Olympic cycles. The organization needs someone that will be leading the way 20 years down the road. As the owner of The Hockey News, I am constantly seeking out youth to be contributors as we celebrate our 75th season this year.
He is a true leader, speaks multiple languages, has great relations with the leaders of hockey in every country, has a strong vision for the future of the IIHF and has a good trusted friend in me – someone who happens to have the biggest media brand with the smartest global hockey audience ready to work with him to grow the game we both love.