While doing research in the archives on past World Championships, I came across several interesting accounts that Canada had with their favourite adversary, the late IIHF president John F. (Bunny) Ahearne, during the 1965 World Championships in Tampere, Finland:
March 2, 1965: The hockey teams of the U.S. and Canada, tuning up for the 1965 world amateur championships, both denied charges from Ahearne that they are the game's bad boys. Ahearne, secretary of the IIHF, called the referees together and gave them a straight talk on controlling the tournament by instructing them to "clamp down the incitement of trouble from the bench", particularly focusing on the two North American teams since the European teams think the Americans and Canadians are trouble-makers. American coach Ken Yackel responded: "I know the referees have their eye on us, but this is not a rough team. Maybe American players have been in trouble in the past, but the European players are much more subtle in the way they break the rules. I was a professional player for 5 years, and I never saw some of the tricks they pull over here in Europe." Gord Simpson, Canadian coach, said the refs seemed to watch his players a little more closely than other teams as well.
March 3, 1965: Mr. Ahearne announces that he is going to throw 5 of Canada's top players out of the 1965 tournament claiming that they are "former professionals who are ineligible for competition here because, as reinstated amateurs, they were not registered with international headquarters before Sept. 1, as regulations require."
This rule is aimed directly at the Canadians who were getting in the habit of beefing up tournament entries with last-minute reinforcements recruited from minor professional leagues. For a while, Canadian delegates were despondent and downhearted as they contemplated the sudden loss of Gary Aldcorn, Al Johnson, Reg Abbott, Jim MacKenzie and Bill Johnson--with the Canadian team inevitably looking to be humiliated by the player loss. But Gordon Juckes, CAHA secretary-manager, challenged Ahearne's ruling and suggested he should investigate the situation more thoroughly before judging. The 5 men listed, Juckes informed Ahearne, quit pro hockey many years ago and their amateur certificates had been on file at the IIHF office for an equal number of years. Upon checking, Ahearne admitted he was wrong and that the 5 players were indeed eligible to play. Tommy Lockhart, president of the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association, immediately saluted Juckes saying: "That was the first time anybody ever made Bunny back down."
March 4, 1965: IIHF President Bunny Ahearne has confirmed his strong opposition to an Austrian hockey school staffed by 6 NHL players. The IIHF is opposed to any performance by a professional player, not just games. It had been suggested that the IIHF was mistaken since the big league players planned to conduct clinics, not play matches. Ahearne refused to grant the permission needed by stating: "It will never get off the ground. First they must have the approval of the Austrian federation, and that is not forthcoming. And if it did go on without approval, Austria would be in serious trouble with the IIHF." Ahearne added: "It amuses me. What can these NHL professionals teach European hockey players?" The Austrian hockey school was to be set up by ex-Leaf Larry Regan with Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Pronovost, Tim Horton, Ron Stewart and Terry Sawchuk as the faculty.
March 4, 1965: Mr. Ahearne told Canadian delegates there was practically no chance that the 1967 World Championships would be awarded to Canada as a feature of Canada's centennial year celebration.
March 5, 1965: Flushed with victory, Juckes (Canadian Amateur Hockey Association secretary-manager), took on Ahearne again, attacking him about offering the advance opinion that the IIHF Congress should reject--and will reject--Canada's bid to become the host nation for the 1967 world hockey championship. Juckes itemized the grievances:
(1) Canada is acknowledged as the first nation in hockey; and never has staged this competition. It has every right to receive prime consideration for this tournament. Also, 1967 is Canada's centennial year.
(2) It is not Ahearne's business to forecast, officially, the decision that other men have yet to make.
(3) Canada has decided it is an important power in world hockey and as such, is sick of being pushed around by the IIHF.
March 10, 1965: Despite receiving only two other late bids (Austria and Switzerland) to host the 1967 world championships, Canada is not awarded the tournament and instead it is given to Austria by the IIHF under the influence of Mr. Ahearne. The vote was 33-20 against Canada hosting the games. Ahearne, who last week said that Canada had no chance of getting the tournament, said: "I was actually hoping Canada would get the winning bid."
In a confidential moment, Mr. Ahearne admitted his hostility toward Canada is mainly of a nature that one would adopt toward a troublesome member, such as how a "parent must deal with a naughty child." Ahearne added: "World hockey needs Canada and that's why I'm pleased to see men like Father David Bauer making the right moves to restore the strength and prestige of amateur hockey in Canada."
In fairness to Mr. Ahearne, under his direction, international amateur hockey grew into a tremendously lucrative enterprise during his tenure. He turned the world championships into a major international event by seeing the importance of television to the sport in the late '50s and negotiating lucrative broadcasting rights while also popularizing the idea of selling advertising space along the boards in arenas in the 1960s. Much of the money raised by these ventures helped finance the growth of international hockey by providing cash which could be invested by each country into the development of the sport, especially among youngsters.