The Ice Rumbles: Hockey Canada’s Decision

Hockey Canada has proclaimed a stunning decision: the 2018 world junior men’s team is sidelined from international competitions until the investigation into an alleged group sexual assault involving its members reaches a resolution. As a result, Team Canada management was notified earlier this year, impacting the upcoming IIHF Men’s World Championship in May.

A Shadow Looms: Allegations and Investigations

In the spring of 2021, a chilling revelation emerged: some 2018 world junior team members faced accusations of group sexual assault in the aftermath of a Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario, back in June 2018. Subsequently, two investigations sprouted: one by the London police and another by law firm Henein Hutchison, retained by Hockey Canada for an independent examination. In the end, both probes closed without charges or sanctions against the accused players.

Unearthing the Past: Reopening the Investigation

Last year, the allegations resurfaced publicly, prompting both investigations to reawaken. In December, Hockey Canada received the confidential Henein Hutchison report. Notably, on Monday, the House of Commons heritage committee unanimously passed a motion demanding Hockey Canada submit the report within 24 hours—with privacy redactions in place.

The Mystery of Closure: Initial Investigation Termination

Danielle Robitaille, a partner at Henein Hutchison, disclosed that the initial investigation was terminated in 2018 due to the complainant’s reluctance to provide a statement. With a newfound willingness to participate, the investigation was revived.

Turbulent Legal Waters: Developments in Court

Court documents unveiled that London police possess “reasonable grounds” to suspect five members of the 2018 world junior team of sexually assaulting a woman after the 2018 Hockey Canada gala. Despite this, no charges have materialized, and the allegations remain unproven.

Facing the Storm: Hockey Canada’s Reckoning and Sponsorship Loss

Hockey Canada has weathered relentless scrutiny regarding its management of sexual assault cases involving players. Shockingly, it was revealed that a reserve fund, partially fueled by membership fees, was used to settle sexual misconduct cases. Hockey Canada later vowed to discontinue this practice.

As a consequence, major sponsors—including Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Scotiabank, and Esso—revoked their support for the recent world juniors and the entire 2022-23 season, demanding change within the organization. Succumbing to pressure, the entire board of directors and president and CEO Scott Smith resigned in October. The newly-appointed board pledges to transform the culture within the sport and organization.

*Incorporating information from the Canadian Press