Players who don't participate in Hockey Canada sexual assault investigation will be banned: investigator – CBC News
A third-party investigator hired by Hockey Canada to look into an alleged group sexual assault said players who don’t participate in her investigation will be banned from Hockey Canada for life — and that many players she hasn’t interviewed are worried that Hockey Canada and some politicians have pre-judged them guilty.
Danielle Robitaille, a partner at law firm Henein Hutchison LLP, told the House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage that Hockey Canada has advised her that players who don’t take part in her reopened investigation will be banned from Hockey Canada and will be named publicly.
In May 2022, Hockey Canada settled a $3.55-million lawsuit filed in April by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by eight former Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players following a Hockey Canada Foundation event in London, Ont., in June 2018.
The allegations have not been proven in court. The identities of the players allegedly involved and the alleged victim are not publicly known.
In her testimony, Robitaille said Hockey Canada contacted her firm shortly after the alleged assault and gave her a mandate to learn the truth of what happened and make policy recommendations to Hockey Canada.
But the third-party investigation was unable to interview all of the 2018 world junior hockey team players who were at the event in the subsequent months, so it presented a preliminary report and recommendations to Hockey Canada in September 2018. The investigation eventually closed with an agreement between Henein Hutchison and Hockey Canada that it could be reopened at any time.
In the meantime, the case has prompted unprecedented scrutiny of hockey culture and Hockey Canada as an organization. Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have criticized Hockey Canada since the case became public in May.
In her testimony, Robitaille acknowledged the public anger the case has ignited.
“I appreciate that it’s very frustrating to Canadians that we don’t have an outcome yet,” Robitaille told the committee.
“My investigation is taking time, but justice and fairness sometimes take time.”
Robitaille provided several new details about the investigation to MPs at the committee. While Hockey Canada executives previously told the committee that most players at the London event did not participate in the initial investigation, Robitaille said 10 out of 19 gave interviews.
She said the nine who chose not to participate advised her through their lawyer that they would not participate until the London Police Service concluded its criminal investigation of the incident, which started in July 2018. The London police closed their investigation without charges in February 2019.
Robitaille said she still could not interview the players after that point because the alleged victim said through her lawyer that she would not provide a statement recalling her version of what happened in June 2018 to the investigation.
Robitaille said that without that statement, she was “not prepared” to arrange interviews with the players and the investigation went dormant.
“I was not prepared to interview those players absent the complainant’s version of events,” Robitaille told the committee.
“As a matter of due process, I could not interview players without giving them fair notice of what was alleged against them.”
Robitaille said that, earlier this month, she received notice that the complainant would provide a statement. Investigators now have the statement and the investigation is active again.
Hockey Canada executives have told the committee that while players were encouraged to participate in the initial stage of the third-party investigation, they were not required to do so.
But Robitaille said the organization has now told her that players who don’t participate will be banned from Hockey Canada and that the ban would be made public.
Robitaille stressed that the investigation is ongoing.
Players concerned politicians, Hockey Canada ‘pre-judged’ them
Robitaille added that legal counsel for eight of the nine players with whom she hasn’t spoken told her the players are concerned that some politicians and Hockey Canada officials already have decided they’re guilty.
“They have expressed concerns about my investigation, particularly as it relates to comments made by politicians and members of Hockey Canada. They have a concern that the issue has been pre-judged,” she said.
“I am attempting to address those concerns and assuage those concerns, and I hope that I will receive voluntary compliance with my investigation.”
London police announced last week that they will reopen their investigation into the alleged assault.
Hockey Canada said last week it would no longer use a fund maintained by membership fees to settle sexual assault claims.
The organization announced Monday that it will commit to a number of other changes, including enhanced training focused on masculinity, consent and toxic behaviours and a universal code of conduct to prevent and address maltreatment in the sport.
Members of Canada’s 2003 world junior team are also facing an accusation of group sexual assault from 2003.
Appearing before the committee Tuesday, St-Onge said the news about the fund and the 2003 allegation has damaged Hockey Canada’s reputation.
“Our level of trust in Hockey Canada is extremely low now,” St-Onge said.
“These revelations illustrate a deep, toxic culture that allows people to act with impunity.”
St-Onge pointed out that the government recently established a new regulatory body, the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner, which can hear and investigate complaints from Canadian athletes.
Canadian sports organizations will have to subject themselves to the new watchdog before April 2023 or risk the loss of federal government funding.
St-Onge said she hopes changes to hockey culture off the ice will have implications for the sport.
“Hockey Canada must also take this situation as an opportunity to make a fundamental shift on the underlying violence in the sport, including issues such as racism, concussions and fighting on the ice,” St-Onge said.
Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith is set to testify before the committee on Wednesday, along with former CEO Tom Renney, who was in the position from 2014 to June 2022.
On Tuesday, retired NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who has spoken out against bullying and abuse in sport, called on Smith and other members of Hockey Canada’s leadership to resign.
“[Having] the same people with a new plan expecting different results is the definition of insanity,” Kennedy said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
Giving my 26 yrs of advocating for victims, I cant sit idle any longer. <a href=”https://t.co/r98K7b66xG”>pic.twitter.com/r98K7b66xG</a>
Sport Canada knew of allegation in 2018
Michel Ruest, a senior director of Sport Canada, told the committee the federal organization was made aware of the alleged sexual assault in 2018 but did not follow up with Hockey Canada at the time.
Appearing before the Canadian heritage committee Tuesday, Ruest also told MPs that Sport Canada, a branch of Canadian Heritage, did not make then-sport minister Kent Hehr’s office aware of the allegations.
St-Onge has said she did not know of the allegations until this year.
Several MPs asked Ruest why Hockey Canada’s federal funding was not cut before June of this year, and why there was no follow-up on the case.
“So there was this allegation made, you were made aware of it on June 26 , and for four years not once did you or your organization follow up with Hockey Canada about these allegations?” Conservative MP John Nater asked Ruest.
Ruest replied that Sport Canada was awaiting the result of Hockey Canada’s third party investigation and the London Police Service’s criminal investigation.
Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage Isabelle Mondou, who also appeared before the committee Tuesday, said she didn’t consider the delay unusual.
“What we knew at Sport Canada is that there was a police investigation underway, and as you know, sometimes police investigations can take years,” Mondou told the committee.
“It wasn’t necessarily surprising to us that the investigation was still ongoing. What surprised us was that we hadn’t had enough updates.”
NDP MP Peter Julian asked why Sport Canada doesn’t have measures in place to verify whether sporting organizations are following anti-harassment measures.
“I think Canadians have lost confidence,” Julian said.
“They’ve lost confidence in Hockey Canada, they’re losing confidence in Sport Canada, because we’re not seeing the kind of attentive followup that actually means these policies that are put into place are more than just vague words.”
Raptors' Nick Nurse 'Gonna Take a Few Weeks to See Where I'm at' After Season Ends – Bleacher Report
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is unsure of his future with the franchise beyond the 2022-23 campaign.
Nurse told reporters ahead of Friday’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers that he’s going to take his time deciding on whether he wants to forge ahead as Toronto’s head coach beyond this season.
Nurse said, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:
“First of all, I think when this season gets done, we’ll evaluate everything, and even personally, I’m gonna take a few weeks to see where I’m at, you know? Like you said, where my head’s at. And just see how the relationship with the organization is and everything. It’s been 10 years for me now, which is a pretty good run. I don’t know, over those 10 years we got to be up there in number of wins with anybody in the league. I don’t know even know where that is, but we’ve had a lot of big seasons.
“And then, right now, my head is to make this as long of a season as possible. This team needs playoff experience. So that is where I’m at right now … finish out these six, see where we land, see if we can’t creep up a spot or two in the standings, and then give them hell in the playoffs, see if we can get in a real series and take it from there.”
Nurse added that he has not considered his future being somewhere other than Toronto after the 2022-23 campaign.
The 55-year-old has been with the franchise for 10 years. He has been head coach of the Raptors since the 2018-19 season and he served as an assistant for the franchise under Dwane Casey from 2013 to ’18.
In his five seasons as Toronto’s head coach, the team has gone 224-160 and has made three postseason appearances, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2019, where the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in six games.
However, the Raptors have struggled to a 38-38 record this season entering Friday’s game against the Sixers. The team currently sits ninth in the Eastern Conference and isn’t expected to contend for a title this year.
If Nurse and the Raptors part ways after this season, it will be interesting to see whether he retires or searches for another head coaching gig. He has been linked to the Houston Rockets, but there’s been no indication that he would take that job.
Harnden brothers together again for World Curling Championship – SooToday
With the World Men’s Curling Championship set to open up in Ottawa this weekend, E.J. and Ryan Harnden are set to reunite on the curling rink.
The Sault Ste. Marie brothers, who were teammates for years with Brad Jacobs and his northern Ontario-based team for years before the team disbanded at the end of last season, are back together as members of Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland and Labrador-based team that will represent Canada at the tournament.
E.J. joined the Gushue rink full time in the off-season while Ryan will be with the team as an alternate.
“Joining E.J. is going to be special,” Ryan said. “Joining a group like these guys, who have won so much over the last seven years, I have a tremendous amount of respect for this team. We’ve battled in some big games over the course of our careers, but that respect level has always been there.”
“Anything I need to do, anything they want me to do, I’ll be there to help make their lives a little bit easier so they can relax and focus on curling. That’s my primary goal,” Ryan added.
Gushue said experience played a role in adding Ryan as their alternate.
“Ryan has been one of the best leads in the world the last number of years,” Gushue said. “The ability for him late at night to go out and match rocks for us, we’re going to be confident that whatever he says, whatever he gives us, they’re going to be pretty darn close.”
Gushue added that familiarity with the team also helped.
“The familiarity there and the comfort he’s going to provide to the team,” Gushue said. “It’s not like he’s coming in and we need to learn about him.”
Ryan also said that getting a chance to join the Gushue rink took some of the sting off losing in the Brier final with Matt Dunstone’s Manitoba-based team.
“To come that close, it was obviously very disappointing,” Ryan said. “I’m honoured and very excited to join these guys. They’re a team I’ve respected for a very long time.”
E.J. called having brother Ryan joining the team for the Worlds “special.”
“Going back to that, obviously it was extremely hard playing against Ryan,” E.J. said of the Brier final. “We have a really close relationship and I think everyone got a really good inside look at that throughout the Brier and especially into the playoff round and the type of relationship that we do have. Both of us were very honest and genuine when we said, as hard as it was, that was a perfect scenario because at least one of us was going to win.”
E.J. added that “I probably felt every single emotion that I was able to feel simultaneously once we won.”
Both Harnden brothers also reflected on their last World Men’s Curling Championship appearance, which was 10 years ago with Brad Jacobs’ rink.
“We were a bit of a deer in the headlights at that first Worlds,” Ryan said. “Being quite new onto the scene, we had some ups and downs. That prepared us very well for Sochi, even though the Olympics is a bit of a different beast. Having that international experience kind of opened our eyes of how much pressure there is wearing that Canadian flag.”
“It’s hard to prepare for what that feels like when you’re now representing your country,” E.J. added. “That was a great learning experience for us to be able to separate from those expectations and focus on what it is that we need to do as individuals and as a team in order to maximize our play on the ice and focus on the things that are within our control.”
E.J. joined the Gushue rink in the off-season after Team Jacobs announced near the end of last season that Jacobs was stepping away from competitive men’s curling for the time being. E.J. said transitioning to his new team has been “going great.”
“To still be able to learn and absorb knowledge has been great,” E.J. said. “I feel like that’s only going to help me of these next number of years continue to improve and become even a better player than I am now, which is a great feeling.”
E.J. added that his new teammates – Gushue, Mark Nichols, and Geoff Walker – “have been really easy to get along with.”
With E.J. and Caleb Flaxey, also a Sault native, on the team this year, Gushue said both have mixed in well, E.J. as second and Flaxey as a coach.
“We’re at very similar stages in our life. We’re similar ages and have a lot of similar interests. We have good chats and it’s nice to be able to bounce some stuff off him and him bounce some stuff off me and we also like our quiet time too,” Gushue said of E.J.
“Caleb’s very detail-oriented,” Gushue added. “It’s nice to have him on board and take care of a lot of the stuff, some of the things I had to deal with over the last number of years.”
Gushue joked that while Flaxey’s rock experience wasn’t quite at the level of longtime Canadian curling coach Jules Owchar, Flaxey is “just probably a little bit more organized than Jules.”
“Jules still does everything by paper and pen,” Gushue joked. “He’s pretty old-school where Caleb gets the laptop out.”
Ryan O'Reilly on his broken finger and injury rehab: "They said I needed surgery, so I'm thinking, 'Am I done for the season?' The timeline gave me relief… Playoffs are all that really matters” – Maple Leafs Hot Stove
For the first time since breaking his finger, Ryan O’Reilly met with the media to discuss his return to practice, his injury rehab, and the plan to ramp up for the playoffs.
How does the finger feel right now?
O’Reilly: It feels good. It has been four weeks now since it happened, but it feels good. We’re progressing. It is not 100% yet. We have to be smart. The goal is to be 100% for the playoffs.
It was nice to be out there skating with the guys. We are getting close here.
Would you be playing if this was the playoffs right now?
O’Reilly: Possibly. It is tough to say. We are in a good position with having the points.
It does feel good. It is just being smart and making sure we don’t have setbacks and can be ready for the right time.
Was there a sinking feeling and you knew right away when the puck hit you?
O’Reilly: I didn’t really know until I got off and was getting changed. Paul [Ayotte] the trainer came over, asked, and wanted to look at it. I kind of saw it was crooked. I knew it wasn’t good.
We saw the x-ray, and obviously, it was disappointing. But I didn’t really know. They said I probably needed surgery, so I didn’t know how long. Am I done for the season or not?
It was kind of good news that I wouldn’t be out too long and that it happened early enough. It wasn’t later in the season. I am just focused on getting ready for the playoffs.
How long did it take for you to find out the severity of it?
O’Reilly: It wasn’t too long after. They kind of gave me a timeline of four-to-six weeks after doing the surgery on it. I was really disappointed, but that kind of gave me relief with regard to the playoffs. That’s all that really matters.
What is the final piece you are waiting for until it would be 100%?
O’Reilly: The shooting and passing feel great. It is just the other stuff — the stick battles and all of that, and just being able to trust that it’s 100% strong in that.
Again, that is going to come. It is progressing. I feel like I could push it harder, but there is no point. We just have to be smart with it and make sure it heals the right way. It will help me down the road.
Does the fact that it is the lower hand on the stick make it more impactful?
O’Reilly: The top hand does a lot of work, too. Both do different things. For faceoffs, it is the bottom hand that carries a lot of the force, too. Either or play a vital part in it. It is just an unfortunate break. It happens.
Are you going to wear a modified glove when you come back to protect it?
O’Reilly: Possibly. Right now, I am wearing something that can protect it a little better. As we progress, we will kind of revisit it and see.
Have you circled a game for a return?
O’Reilly: No, we are kind of just taking it every couple of days, evaluating it, and seeing where we are at. We don’t really have a target yet.
Is it nice to be back into the full practice?
O’Reilly: I don’t like being in the red [jersey]. It stands out a little too much.
It was a good first practice to get back into the feel and be out there with other bodies. I think it will start from there.
How significant are the final few games and making sure you get into a game or two?
O’Reilly: Those will be great. It will be good for our lineup, too, to see how we are going to approach that first game and for me to get the timing back. You can skate all you want in practice, but the feel of the game, the pushing, the competing is something that you can’t really replicate.
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