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Hockey Canada C.E.O. and Board of Directors Resign Amid Controversy


TORONTO — The sweeping changes at the highest of Hockey Canada demanded for months by politicians, corporate sponsors, outstanding figures in sport and the general public finally happened Tuesday when Scott Smith stepped down because the organization’s president and chief executive. At the identical time, your complete board of directors also resigned.

The departures got here days after the resignation of the interim board chair, Andrea Skinner. She served for about two months after replacing the previous chair Michael Brind’Amour, who resigned in August.

“An interim management committee might be put in place, which can guide the organization until no later than a newly constituted Board appoints a latest C.E.O. to steer the organization,” Hockey Canada, the game’s national governing body, said in a press release. A board election is scheduled for Dec. 17. No date was given for the formation of the interim management committee.

Just because the departures of Smith and the board of directors were announced, the equipment and apparel company Bauer Hockey became the most recent sponsor to step away from Hockey Canada. It announced on Tuesday it was joining corporations similar to Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and Esso in either canceling or pausing sponsorships value thousands and thousands of dollars annually. By then, the governing bodies for amateur hockey in Quebec and Ontario had severed ties with Hockey Canada, and other provincial organizations had stepped back, as well.

The resignations marked the most recent fallout in a series of scandals related to allegations of sexual assault and subsequent financial settlements paid out by Hockey Canada going back to 1989. The downward spiral for the organization began in May when the Canadian sports broadcaster TSN reported a settlement was paid to a lady who filed a $3.55 million (Canadian) lawsuit accusing players on Canada’s men’s world junior team of sexual assault after a Hockey Canada social event in London, Ontario, in 2018.

Because the furor mounted, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage began an investigation of Hockey Canada in June. Hockey Canada’s officials refused calls for his or her resignation and resisted requests for financial and other information from the committee, hoping to flee the parliamentary investigation unscathed. In addition they promised to review their governance and make changes.

But more revelations rocked the country over the summer. Then, Skinner and Brind’Amour each got a bumpy ride by the Heritage Committee last week, and committee members said their hearings finally made Hockey Canada bow to the growing demands for change.

“I believe the testimony did it,” Hedy Fry, a Liberal member of Parliament and the chair of the committee, said. “The people watching saw the non-answering, the means of suggesting they’d give an A to the leadership.”

She added: “I believe that caused an entire lot of the backlash. I believe the resignations got here partly because hearings exposed things that caused the dominoes to fall in place with sponsors, et cetera, et cetera. I believe the general public backlash also made a difference.”

The resistance of Smith and other Hockey Canada officials to stepping down continued at the same time as the scandals piled up. Articles in The Globe and Mail revealed Hockey Canada maintained two secret funds to pay out settlements for claims of sexual assault and abuse. Hockey Canada officials testified in July before the Heritage Committee that other than the London claim, 7.6 million Canadian dollars were paid out to settle nine claims of sexual assault and abuse since 1989. A lot of the money went to victims of the previous junior hockey coach Graham James.

Among the money for the key funds got here from registration fees for kids’s hockey programs across Canada.

Also over the summer, Hockey Canada revealed some players on the 2003 men’s world junior team were under investigation for accusations of sexual assault. Police in London said they’d reopen their investigation of the 2018 incident, and the N.H.L. also announced an investigation because some players on that team at the moment are under its jurisdiction.

No names of either the 2003 or 2018 players have been made public, and not one of the accusations have been tried in criminal court.

Smith, a longtime Hockey Canada executive, lasted somewhat greater than three months in the highest job. He got off to a rough start when each he and his predecessor, Tom Renney, who coached the Rangers for nearly five seasons, appeared at the primary Heritage Committee hearing in June. Neither man offered many concrete answers, and the federal government cut off funding to Hockey Canada as a direct result. The exodus of corporate sponsors followed.

Nonetheless, the Liberal M.P. Anthony Housefather, who sits on the Heritage Committee, thinks Tuesday’s resignations will result in progress for the investigation. But he still has questions on Smith’s departure.

“Hopefully this can result in more transparency from Hockey Canada in questions we have now to ask,” Housefather said. “We still need to grasp what severance Scott Smith got paid. I’d wish to think he just resigned, but I’m sure he reached some type of deal.”

He added: “And the interim management committee, are these latest people, or are they the identical individuals who worked alongside Smith and Skinner?”

The Heritage Committee plans to resume its work next week. Bob Nicholson, the chairman of the Edmonton Oilers, is predicted to be the primary witness. He was the chief executive of Hockey Canada from 1998 to 2014 and has up to now had only limited exposure to the scandals.

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