Successful and fast development
Article - Successful and fast development
The “success story Spengler Cup” made its beginning in 1923 – and already in the subsequent yeas it experienced a development as notable as it was rapid.
A look at the archives shows, the differences between the tournaments in 1923 and 1924 were considerable. The trade newspaper “Sport” praised the Spengler Cup’s ‘exemplary organization’ in 1924 and found that ‘Europe’s best’ faced off against each other at this event. Paul Muller, a Jack of all trades, who in 1924 was the SEHV president, HCD president and its captain of the personal union, was praised above all.
In those days the English ice hockey players, who were usually Canadian students at the university teams of Oxford and Cambridge, were considered the ultimate benchmark. The foreign teams, which played in Switzerland at the turn of the year, served as a role model to Swiss hockey - developing a certain ambition, which also brought along innovation and improvements. ‘To compete with foreign teams, we needed the opportunity to train regularly and year-round in ice palaces. Exceptional ice skating is an absolute requirement for good hockey. The players must get to a place where they feel as comfortable on the ice as on the grass of a football pitch’, “Sport” reported. After 1930 artificial ice surfaces were built in many places across Switzerland.
Already in the 1920s ice hockey was showing certain tendencies of professionalism, as was already the case in soccer. In 1931 a professional national soccer league was introduced, which later proved to be too early as the Swiss Football Federation moved back to amateur sport in 1941. The ice hockey clubs did not make the move to professional sport in those years. An exception were the few paid athletes, such as foreign player-coaches. The SEHV held discussions about amateur and professional sport already in November 1926. That the federation discussed the topic of professional sport merely five years after HCD was founded and only three years after the first Spengler Cup was held, shows the fast development in Swiss ice hockey during the Golden 1920s.
The yearly fee for active players and seniors was 12 francs, 10 francs for passive members, and for juniors 6 francs. The club’s one-time entry fee was 5 francs. In comparison: in 1925 a Swiss worker earned on average 1.33 francs per hour. At the time there may not have been any professional players, but early on foreigners were already employed as professional ice hockey coaches. The American Samy Pierce, who was hired in 1925, was the first of numerous foreign coaches to be paid as professionals. And some quite generously at that. Pierce’s successor, the Canadian Bobby Bell, was said to have earned 2000 francs a month during his tenure from 1928 and 1932.
These were investments, which in the end paid dividends on the ice. As such, between the second edition in 1924 and 1938, the last tournament before a two-year break, HCD won the Spengler Cup a respectable four times – and made an additional seven final appearances.
Text: SLAPSHOT – das Hockey-Magazin der Schweiz Foto: Keystone