Another tumultuous week at Hockey Canada has ended with the resignation of its board of directors, including that of Chief Executive Officer Scott Smith.
This news comes following the resignation of volunteer Andrea Skinner – brought in back on August to help divulge and clean up the issues at hand, which included multiple sexual assaults and the use of registration funds to help cover up said sexual assaults.
“Upon reflection, it is clear to me from recent events that it no longer makes sense for me to continue to volunteer my time as Interim Chair or as a Director of the organization,” Skinner said.
With the discovery of a second kitty fund earlier this week, Skinner stepped down from her role – the first sizeable change at the top of the Hockey Canada executive.
“As a Board, we wish Andrea well and would like to thank her for her service to Hockey Canada,” the executive board initially wrote in a statement. “We will continue to meet over the weekend to discuss other changes and reforms to the organization.”
But just days later, big-time sponsors such as Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Nike and Bauer all backed out of sponsorship deals with Hockey Canada, leaving the governing body of hockey in Canada with little to no sponsorship revenue expected.
Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser tonight calls Hockey Canada "disgraceful", and calls for a fresh start within the organization. Says sponsors pulling out is "a strong message. It's going to result in change, and that's what we need". pic.twitter.com/rBKC7WYnMx
— Sarah Sears (@iamSas) October 6, 2022
That realization – paired with the ever-growing demands of change from the public – ultimately led to the disbandment of the executive board.
Hockey Canada released the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Hockey Canada Board of Directors has announced important changes to Hockey Canada’s leadership team. Effective immediately, it announced the departure of chief executive officer Scott Smith. The entire Board has also agreed to step down to make room for a new slate of directors.
An interim management committee will be put in place, which will guide the organization until no later than a newly constituted Board appoints a new CEO to lead the organization.
Recognizing the urgent need for new leadership and perspectives, the entire Board of Directors announced it will step aside and pursuant to Hockey Canada’s By-Laws, the Board will ask its Members to select a new slate of directors by no later than the forthcoming virtual election scheduled for December 17, 2022. The Board will not seek re-election and will fulfil its fiduciary duties until such time as a new Board is elected.
Hockey Canada is seeking board candidates to shape the future of the organization. We encourage qualified individuals to respond to the call for nominations issued by the independent Nominating Committee last week.
The interim Management Committee will focus on day-to-day operations and ensure progress on the implementation of Hockey Canada’s Action Plan, including reviewing and working with the Board and Members towards the full implementation of the independent governance review recommendations from The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, C.C., former Supreme Court Justice as well as working to facilitate the effective transition to a new CEO and Board.
Hockey Canada will continue to provide public updates on these important changes as well as the continued work towards implementing its ongoing Action Plan.”
Hockey Canada’s Interim Report
On Thursday, Hockey Canada publicly released the findings by Supreme Court justice The Honourable Thomas Cromwell in an independent investigation into its improper use of funds. The 100-plus page preliminary report suggested a number of significant changes, including that of public declaration of how registration fees are used, the re-assessment of the National Equity Fund, as well as changes to the makeup of the new Hockey Canada executive board, including the expansion from nine members to 13, and increased gender parity.
Canadian National Women’s Team statement
Thursday afternoon also saw the women making up the Canadian National Women’s Team post a group statement on social media. The full statement can be found below:
“The recent developments out of Hockey Canada are a first step in what we hope represents the beginning of positive change in the future of hockey in Canada.
We are confident that a Board that truly embodies the diversity of our country and one that will advocate and fight for a safe and protected environment for all participants and fans will be appointed.
We remain committed to the development of all programs at Hockey Canada, especially the women’s and para programs, and look for a Board that will embody this commitment.
We are united like never before in ensuring that the best interests of hockey players and fans are at the core of everything Hockey Canada does.
We ask for equal representation with a seat at the table, as we continue to promote and grow the women’s game globally, so that we may bring our perspective and input to ensure that our sport’s national governing body evolves to one that truly represents all Canadians and safeguards its participants. As members of the most recent Women’s Canadian National Olympic and World Championships teams, we are proud of the culture and legacy our program has created and would like to thank the partners who continue to stand alongside us.”