The problem with your argument is that as far as the IOC was concerned, for years, the only professional leagues were in North America, Sven Johansson played in several Olympics for Sweden while making $60,000 a year to play hockey (at the time only a handful of NHLers made more). Erich Kuhnhackl played for Germany in several Olympics.....despite turning down Million Dollar offers from Montreal and the Rangers in the 1970s because it would have been a cut in pay. Peter Statsny was paid $45,000 a year in the Czech Republic in 1979-80 (average NHL salary was just over $52K).....but was still an amateur for Olympic purposes in 1980.
When the Olympic movement was created, the best amateur athletes had day jobs. But make no mistake, de Coubertin wanted the BEST athletes in the Olympics.
In 1936, Jesse Owens made over $30,000 USD as an athlete (the average US worker made $2700) but because his day job was student. During those Olympics, Jesse Owens became the first sponsored athlete when Adi Dassler asked Jesse to wear his shoes (courtesy of Reuters, November 8, 2005).
So, you need to be able to define 'amateur', and then you have to reconcile De Coubertin's desire to have the best athletes compete.
No easy task.
Bob - One of Hockey Canada's issues in the late 60s was the growing number or professional players in the European Leagues. At the time, Canada had the WHL and NHL as two primary professional leagues with the AHL below them. All were 'tainted' as professional by the IOC. While the players I listed above were extroardinary players and commanded NHL type salaries in their respective leagues, the fact was that by the late 60s, all the players playing in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Italy, etc were receiving wages to play hockey. It was already becoming an alternative to players who couldn't make the NHL.
Canada's line of reasoning at the time was NOT having NHL/WHL players play, but having AHLers represent us at the World Championships. The difficulties associated with all North American leagues playing in February never made that an option for the Olympics.
One of the moves that finally tipped the scales in Hockey Canada's favour was Germany's Kuhnhackl turning down a 4 year $4MM contract from the New York Rangers in January 1975 as 'I'd have to take a paycut'. The performance of the 72 Russians (whom Hockey Canada had already convinced the IOC was not a bunch of military personnal who had a hockey hobby) and Kuhnhackl's revalation opened up the eyes of the IIHF and IOC. The IIHF moved to allow professionals to play in IIHF sanctioned tournaments beginning with the 1976 Canada Cup (co sanctioned by the NHLPA) and the 1977 World Championships.
In 1983, Canada made the decision to allow minor professionals to play for the 1984 Olympic team. Roughly the same time, a Russian player (Bykov?? Bobrov??) was arrested for being drunk in Finland. He told the judge that his profession was....hockey player. In January 1984, the IOC and IIHF decided that the only professional league in world was the NHL and it's direct affiliates (Frank Orr wrote a great column in the Toronto Star and the Hockey News at the time) and that the WHA was as amateur as any league in Europe. This ended up cutting two players from the 1984 team (one being Chicago farmhand Don Dietrich) but allowing several Finns and Swedes who had played in the WHA (but not the NHL) to play.
In 1987 it was made moot as the IOC finally allowed Olympic teams to use players with NHL experience, and Canada chose to use the aging James Peplinski because of his Calgary connection. In 1988, Reijo Ruotsalainen of Finland became the first player to win an Olympic medal AFTER winning a Stanley Cup ring
LITY's rant of the evening!