Experts say Hockey Canada’s board of directors is not adequately responding to criticism over its mishandling of alleged sexual assaults, with one observer noting the organization’s “scorched-earth” approach could bring about the end of the sport’s national governing body in its current form.
The organization has been under intense scrutiny since the spring, facing mounting public outcry and calls for change. But despite frozen federal funding and fleeing corporate sponsors, both former and interim board chairs this week defended the current leadership in Ottawa.
“I’ve never seen this in almost 30 years,” York University law and governance professor Richard Leblanc said in an interview. “The job of the board of directors is not to defend management. The job of the board of directors is to act with a view of the best interests of the organization.
“It’s implausible to see that the best interests of the organization are served by continuing a scorched-earth, entrenchment policy.”
Many organizations, from corporations like banks to charities and amateur sports bodies like Hockey Canada, are governed by boards of directors. Hockey Canada’s board oversees its management and staff, and is elected by the provincial hockey federations.
But Leblanc said Hockey Canada’s management and its board appear to be “fused together.”
“Management might be in denial, but a board of directors should never be in denial,” said Leblanc.
“This is not a game that any board of directors can win. I don’t see the endgame here.”
Former Hockey Canada board chair Michael Brind’Amour stepped down in early August ahead of the end of his term this fall. The next board election is scheduled to happen in November.
Hockey Canada has been grilled by Ottawa over why president and chief executive officer Scott Smith, who’s held the position since July 1, has not been fired amid the string of scandals. Interim chair Andrea Skinner defended Smith this week and said hockey shouldn’t be made a “scapegoat” for toxic culture that exists elsewhere in society.
As the organization sheds sponsors and member support, it’s clear that stakeholders have lost confidence in the board’s ability to identify and respond to the risks that face Hockey Canada, said Christie Stephenson, the executive director of the Dhillon Centre at the UBC Sauder School of Business.
“Board directors’ obligations are to the organization, and that also means its stakeholders,” she said.
The board’s role is to not only oversee, but to challenge management, said Stephenson – not to back them up when things go sideways.
There are two big questions being asked, said Stephenson: what kinds of consequences management of Hockey Canada should face, but also the question of whether its current board is the right governing body to oversee those consequences.
Come election time, Hockey Canada’s members will exercise their votes and make clear whether they want the board’s current lineup to remain as the organization grapples with its problems, said Stephenson, who teaches director training and board governance.
She said the board of directors should be asking themselves whether they are the right people to sit at the table – and answering honestly.
“Directors absolutely need to be aligned with the values of an organization,” she said. “And it’s pretty clear that stakeholders believe Hockey Canada’s values need to shift.”
Hockey Canada’s mission statement, according to its website, is to “lead, develop and promote positive hockey experiences.”
The organization initially came under fire in May when it was revealed an undisclosed settlement had been paid to a woman who alleged in a $3.55-million lawsuit she was sexually assaulted by eight players – including members of the country’s world junior team – after a 2018 gala in London, Ont. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Hockey Canada’s summer of ugly headlines continued with the revelation of a fund partly maintained by minor hockey registration fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual assault and abuse claims.
Hockey Canada officials testified on Parliament Hill in July that the organization had paid out $7.6 million in nine settlements related to sexual assault and abuse claims since 1989, not including this year’s payout to the London plaintiff.
Hockey Canada released an action plan to address safe sport issues and has appointed former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell to conduct a governance review.
But Leblanc says that’s not enough, and called on the board to “lead by example.”
“There’s only one right decision, which is a leadership change at the top,” he said. “If they don’t do that, then the board ultimately is going to be replaced.”
The tone from the top is crucial at a time like this, said Stephenson, and it’s very difficult to govern without the confidence of stakeholders.
“The board directors are ultimately the stewards of the organization. And if they really don’t have or are unable to regain the confidence of their stakeholders, then it’s probably time to go.”
Leblanc said that as it stands, there is no winning for Hockey Canada.
“The deck chairs on the board have shifted a tiny bit, but the messaging has not. It tells me that the board is in denial. Both the board and management are advocating for this entrenchment strategy,” he said.”
“It’s a fallacy that this will go away. This will not end well.”
Trudeau’s suggestion that a new hockey organization could take over from Hockey Canada isn’t as far-fetched as some might think, according to Leblanc, if the organization appears unable or unwilling to change.
“This is our public pride,” he said.
“If the prime minister is smart, and I think he is, he’s working on the legislation as we speak. I think sometime in the next couple of weeks, Hockey Canada may be ruled to be defunct.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2022.
Canadiens @ Oilers: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch – Habs Eyes on the Prize
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet 360 (English), TVAS (French)
The Montreal Canadiens will look to add another win on their Western-Canada-plus-Seattle road trip two nights removed from an exciting 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The game might have been a one-goal contest, but it would’ve been a lot different if goaltender Jake Allen hadn’t stood on his head, making a whopping 45 saves in the victory, his first since November 19.
Tale of the Tape
|45.8% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||50,5% (17th)|
|2,78 (26th)||Goals per game||3,42 (9th)|
|3,39 (22nd)||Goals against per game||3,63 (7th)|
|15,7% (29th)||PP%||27,6% (5th)|
|82,3% (6th)||PK%||71,6% (27th)|
|1-1-0||H2H Record (’21-22)||1-1-0|
On Thursday, it was Montreal’s first overall pick from this summer’s draft, Juraj Slafkovský, who opened the scoring on the first shot of the game at 13 seconds, when Calgary all-star goaltender Jacob Markstrom decided to leave his crease to try to play the puck, which inevitably resulted in a poor miscue by the former Vezina nominee.
Habs standout Cole Caufield, who has been mesmerizing fans and brass alike, scored the eventual game-winner, a power-play marker six-and-a-half minutes into the third period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. The man advantage has been a bit of a soft spot all season, finding itself 29th in the league, and also especially after going zero-for-six earlier in the week against San Jose, it was nice to see it clicking for once.
Thursday’s game was also a homecoming of sorts for Sean Monahan, a former 2013 first-round pick of the Calgary Flames. His return was met with a lot of chants and cheers, as opposed to Kirby Dach’s return to Chicago a week prior. Monahan, who currently sits fourth in team scoring with five goals and 16 points, assisted on both Montreal goals.
Tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt in their last game Thursday night, a 5-3 loss to Kirill ‘The Thrill’ Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild squad. The Oilers’ one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and a helper in the contest, but it didn’t help their cause.
McDavid and Draisaitl have been two of the best players in the game in recent years, and yet again find themselves on pace for record-setting seasons, sitting number one and three in the NHL scoring race, respectively. McDavid’s 19 goals and 43 points through his first 24 games make his numbers last season (44 goals and 79 assists) look like a poor performance for the perennial all-star.
His German counterpart currently has 16 goals and 38 points, making his career-best totals of 55 goals and 110 points also seem well within reach, which makes these two some of the best teammates at the top of the leaderboard since the late-90s when the Pittsburgh Penguins had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr taking the league down in a fury.
Both Edmonton goaltenders, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, have shared an equal workload with Mike Smith on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. Campbell, who signed an off-season deal with the Oilers at five years and-$25 million, has put up seven wins, but a league-worst 4.12 goals-against-average.
Last season saw these two squads split the season series, with each road team getting a victory. Edmonton took the first contest, a 7-2 dismantling at the Bell Centre on January 29, and then Montreal exacted revenge on March 5, with a 5-2 victory at Rogers Place.
One bright spot for Habs last year was that of all nine of Edmonton’s goal-scorers versus Montreal, none wore the number 97. McDavid registered zero points across both contests. Just a little optimism that it can repeat itself Saturday in Alberta.
NHL Buzz: Manson out week to week for Avalanche – NHL.com
Welcome to the NHL Buzz. The 2022-23 regular season is underway, and NHL.com has you covered with all the latest news.
Josh Manson is out week to week for the Avalanche because of a lower-body injury.
The defenseman, who sustained the injury in a 6-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, has six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games this season.
Andreas Englund was recalled from Colorado of the American Hockey League. He has one assist in four games with the Avalanche this season.
“Englund has played good when he’s been up with us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I really like what he did when he was up. … Just another big (6-foot-3, 189 pounds), heavy, strong guy that’s been an efficient puck mover for us on the back end.”
Teuvo Teravainen could return for the Hurricanes on Saturday one day after the forward was activated off injured reserve.
Teravainen, who has missed the past 10 games with an upper-body injury, has seven assists in 14 games this season.
Carolina plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Cam Atkinson said he’s getting closer to making his season debut, but the forward remains day to day because of an upper-body injury.
Atkinson added he’s been fully cleared for contact and is not restricted in any way.
“It’s obviously good to be back with everyone and take a little bit of licks and see how I do,” Atkinson said. “Just day to day for me right now.
“It’s been pretty good. A little bit of an adjustment but just working out the kinks. I’m getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now. But I’m closer than not.”
Atkinson was second on the Flyers in goals (23) and points (50) last season. Entering Saturday, Philadelphia was last in the NHL in goals per game (2.38).
Atkinson said the nature of his injury has allowed him to skate and stay in shape that way but that it might take a game or two for him to get his timing with the puck back to normal.
“If I was playing and if we had a day off, even one day off, even if I played 30 games and I took a day off, I still feel like that next practice my timing is just a little bit off,” he said. “Maybe it’s more mental than not. So obviously not playing any games it’s going to take a game or two to get adjusted, but we’re on a pretty good schedule for me right now. I’ve revved it up a lot and I’m feeling good. I feel like my timing is pretty solid, but you really won’t know until you play a game.” — Adam Kimelman
World Cup Daily: Timeless Messi is on a mission for Argentina – Sportsnet.ca
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