It’s Not Fine

Photo credit:Hockey Canada
Robin Brownlee
1 year ago
Watching interim board chair Andrea Skinner defiantly insist before a Canadian Heritage standing committee Tuesday that CEO Scott Smith and his leadership team should not be removed as part of an overhaul of Hockey Canada was as staggering an example of ass-covering, arrogance, and denial as you’ll ever see.
Skinner and former board chair Michael Brind’Amour spent about two hours testifying – if you consider being evasive in answering questions and arguing about the need for change in structure and process in the wake of multiple sexual assault scandals and payoffs dating back decades testifying. It reminded me a little of that “It’s Fine” meme that been around forever.
When you consider the sexual assault cases from 2003 and 2018 that have made headlines in recent months, part of 15 group assault cases dating back to 1989, Skinner’s declaration “the organization has “an excellent reputation” and that it has become the victim of “substantial misinformation and unduly cynical attacks” from the media was truly stunning. Skinner doubled down by warning what could happen if real change is put in place.
“I think that there is a significant risk to the organization if all of the board resigns and all of senior leadership is no longer there,” Skinner said. “I think that will be very impactful in a negative way to our boys and girls who are playing hockey. Will the lights stay on in the rink? I don’t know. We can’t predict that, and to me that’s not a risk worth taking. That’s why I stepped into this role.”
Will the lights stay on in the rink? 


With more testimony still to come, including from Edmonton Oilers chair Bob Nicholson, who was Hockey Canada president and CEO from 1998 to 2014, it looks like we won’t see significant change until those calling the shots at HC now are dragged out kicking and screaming. Fine. Let’s get on with it. Drag ‘em. The good news is that it appears to have started today.
According to LaPresse, Hockey Quebec has voted to cut ties with Hockey Canada and is, among other things, suspending a portion of the registration fees paid to HC. This comes after Federal Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge called on regional federations under Hockey Canada to put pressure on the organization to change. We could see other jurisdictions follow suit.
From LaPresse: “Hockey Quebec severely criticizes Hockey Canada for its action plan put in place in the wake of the sex scandals that marred the organization, in particular an allegation of gang rape which allegedly occurred in 2018. action as a whole,” writes Hockey Quebec, who deplores that this plan was designed “internally and in collaboration with the firm Navigator,” a crisis management company.
“HQ says it is “troubled” that no expert or organization “working in education, awareness and prevention of sexual violence, abuse, bullying and discrimination has been consulted or has contributed to the content of the plan.”


It’s not that the loss of some fees from Quebec will bring Hockey Canada down. The fees represent a relatively small portion of HC revenue, but if other jurisdictions across the country follow suit in the wake of lost sponsorships at the World Junior Championship and government funding, it’ll represent another step in prompting the dismantling of an organization that is way too far gone to make meaningful changes from within.
Get on with it. The lights will stay on in the rink just fine.

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