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Photo credit:Hockey Canada
Robin Brownlee
1 month ago
Amid months of scrutiny in the wake of multiple sexual assault scandals and with the organization bleeding sponsorship money, Hockey Canada has at long last made significant changes to its leadership structure.
On the heels of the resignation of interim board chair Andrea Skinner Saturday, Hockey Canada today announced the resignation of chief executive officer Scott Smith. In addition, the entire board has stepped down to make room for a new group of directors in an election that will be held no later than Dec. 17.
That’s a significant shift in position by HC from the stance taken by Skinner, who just last week vigorously defended how Hockey Canada had handled sexual assault cases, notably from 2003 and 2018, and indicated she didn’t see any need for significant change with the leadership of the organization.
“Our board frankly does not share the view that senior leadership should be replaced on the basis of what we consider to be substantial misinformation and an unduly cynical attacks,” Skinner had said. That position changed quickly in recent days after major sponsors Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Telus, Scotia Bank, Bauer and several others withdrew sponsorships.

THE CHANGES

From Hockey Canada: 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 entire news release is here. 
The board members stepping down are Terry Engen, Kirk Lamb, John Neville, Barry Reynard, Bobby Sahni, Mary Anne Veroba and Goops Wooldridge. Previous board chair Michael Brind’Amour of Montreal stepped down in July and Skinner took over.
What remains to be seen is who will fill the board positions and that of CEO/chair. According to Sportsnet, former Team Canada members Danièle Sauvageau and Thérèse Brisson have been mentioned as possible candidates. Sauvageau, a long-time coach, was a member of the RCMP and the Montréal police force for 33 years. Brisson is CEO of Alpine Canada.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The reality is it wasn’t until withdrawn sponsorship money and the loss of fees that are charged by regional associations threatened to bring Hockey Canada down that these changes came. It shouldn’t have come to this, but it did. What matters most now isn’t how this house cleaning at the top came about, but what happens next.
The overhaul of Hockey Canada will take new people from top to bottom, new structure and new process – notably transparency and ongoing accountability – to make things right and win back public support and that of sponsors. That work is far from done, but as of today we at least have a start. 

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