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Sport integrity commissioner can do a wider inquiry of abuse in sport: St-Onge

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OTTAWA — The new sport integrity commissioner needs to do a wider inquiry digging into a toxic culture of abuse in Canadian sporting organizations, federal Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge said Wednesday.

With hundreds of athletes from multiple sports coming forward with allegations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, St-Onge said clearly more needs to be done.

“I think there should be (a public inquiry) and it should be conducted by the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner,” St-Onge told reporters Wednesday after the weekly Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa.

St-Onge’s office is currently seized with allegations of abuse and sexual assaults in Canadian hockey, and both she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have called for a full change in leadership at Hockey Canada over its handling of the situation.

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Trudeau said Wednesday he does not think the organization’s board or executives really understand the seriousness of what is happening after the interim board chair defended a decision not to force executives to step down.

“It boggles the mind that Hockey Canada is continuing to dig in its heels,” Trudeau said. “Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada.”

He said he hopes they figure it out “because hockey is a really important sport to a lot of Canadians and a lot of kids, and right now this mess is doing no favours to kids across the country.”

Opposition parties on Wednesday pressed Trudeau on the government’s handling of the matter, with Bloc Québécois MP Sébastien Lemire asking for the situation be explored through an independent probe.

St-Onge suspended federal funding for Hockey Canada in June and said she will not consider restoring it until the organization signs on to work with the new Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner.

The office began its work in June, established by the federal government as an independent agency to investigate allegations of abuse in sport.

But hockey is far from the only sport with issues. St-Onge took on the role of minister of sport just last October, but within the first few months hundreds of athletes from at least eight sports had come forward with allegations of abuse, maltreatment and misuse of funds.

Bobsleigh, skeleton, rowing, boxing, rugby, soccer and alpine skiing are just some of the sports where athletes have come forward.

In 2018, former skiers launched a lawsuit against Alpine Canada alleging it covered up sexual abuse at the hands of a coach in part to prevent a loss of sponsorships. That lawsuit was settled out of court in 2019. The coach, Bertrand Charest, was convicted in 2017 of multiple counts of sexual assault and exploitation involving young athletes.

In March of this year, 70 current and former gymnasts wrote an open letter to Sport Canada asking for an independent investigation into a toxic culture in their sport. That number has now grown to more than 500, and more and more gymnasts are speaking publicly about physical, mental and sexual abuse suffered often at the hands of coaches.

Like she did with Hockey Canada, St-Onge cut off federal funding to Gymnastics Canada until it signs on with the sport integrity commissioner.

She has given all sporting organizations until April to sign on with that office, but as of now, only five have, including Volleyball Canada, the Canada Games Council, Canadian Sport for Life, Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic and Weightlifting Canada.

Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan, who was the minister of sport in 2018 and 2019, said in a speech at the University of Saskatchewan last month that Canada held an inquiry in 1989 to investigate allegations of widespread athlete doping after Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal from the Seoul Olympics for testing positive for steroids.

She said Canada now needs “a commission of inquiry into abuse, harassment and sexual assault in sport. To let people be heard, to show the extent of the problem and to receive actionable recommendations for the government to implement.”

She is not alone.

Liberal MP Chris Bittle, who sits on the House of Commons heritage committee that is currently trying to get to the bottom of what is happening at Hockey Canada, said he is not against the idea of a wider inquiry.

“We need to expand the study well beyond Hockey Canada and well beyond what we’re looking at,” he said. “And I think there’s strong desire in the committee to keep going and keep asking the questions, because ultimately, it’s about protecting children.”

Families Minister Karina Gould said a public inquiry on abuse in sport “is not a bad idea.”

“There’s a question here about how we ensure the protection and the safety of athletes, but also, of course what we saw with Hockey Canada and the conduct of athletes, and I think all of us as Canadians want to ensure that this kind of behaviour is, a) unacceptable, and b) doesn’t happen again.”

St-Onge said the sport integrity commissioner is the organization with “the power to do independent investigations on the culture and this is really important to change what’s happening at Hockey Canada.”

She said her office is also auditing all sporting organizations to look for any abuse of public funds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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As winter meetings come to a close, Blue Jays opt to wait for other opportunities – Sportsnet.ca

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Hazel Mae sits down with Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider to discuss his experience at the winter meetings, what the Blue Jays will look to improve upon this offseason, whether outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. can play in right field, and more.

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Edmonton Oilers turn it on against a wounded opponent in an 8-2 win: Cult of Hockey Player Grades – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers earned only their 2nd 2-0 lead of the season against the Arizona Coyotes Wednesday. Then did not look back, en route to an 8-2 no-doubter at Rogers Place.

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And while Edmonton deserves fair marks for the victory…

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Arizona came into this one with just 1 win in their last 10 games and at the tail end of a withering 14-game road trip.

Bad team. Bad schedule. Bad result.

Aside from the 2 points, Jay Woodcroft was able to ease off the gas on McDavid, Draisaitl and Hyman’s ice time.

Here is the tale of the tape…

Cult of Hockey Player Grades

STUART SKINNER. 7. As good as they needed him to be. Stuart Skinner’s best save early was a point-blank stuff on Crouse. Excellent kick save on Keller in the 2nd. Left to his own devices on an Oilers defensive zone breakdown on the 3-1. Handled a breakaway shot in the 3rd thanks in part to a hard back-check by Bouchard. Stopped 16-18.

CONNOR McDAVID. 9. Second assist on the 1-0. Drew a Power Play with a dogged play in the high slot and then fed Draisaitl net side for the 3-0. Just missed an opportunity short side. Received a stretch pass from Draisaitl and then sifted a nice pass to Hyman who took it hard to the net. A lightening fast wraparound on a circus-like pass from Draisaitl made it 7-1. A 1-timer from the bottom of the circle off a Hyman pass made it 8-1. His 18:32 was the least so far this season.

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LEON DRAISAITL. 7. Could not bat home a rebound off a pass from McDavid in the 1st. Contributed to 3 chances on a 2nd Period PP. The next man advantage, he made short work of a tidy McDavid pass net side for the 3-0. Fired a stretch pass in the 2nd that ended with a Hyman chance in tight. Who did not marvel at the spin-o-rama at the attacking blueline followed by the sublime cross-ice backhand pass to McDavid for the 7-1. A relatively light night at 17:40. 57% on draws.

ZACH HYMAN. 6. Drew a 1st Period Power Play and then was net front on the resulting 1-0. Took a McDavid set up hard to the net in the 2nd. Another net drive in the 3rd, followed by a terrific pass that McDavid turned into the 8-1. 4 shots. Good to see him healthy.

DARNELL NURSE. 7. A fine defensive play thwarted a would-be Arizona 2-on-1 in the 1st. An assist on McDavid’s 1st. Quiet, confident game.

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CODY CECI. 5. 1st Period hooking minor. 2 hits, 2 blocks.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 9. He was excellent. Wristed home his 12th of the season on a Power Play in the 1st. Another hard wrister after an Arizona turnover delivered career NHL goal 209 to make it 4-1. That tied him with the great Paul Coffey for 8th on the all-time franchise list. A helper on the Draisaitl goal. Late to his man on the 8-2. 4 shots in 17:59. 50% on draws. A clean sheet in 1:16 of PK time.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 6. Dangerous wrap-around attempt in the 1st. Next shift won an important battle to help clear his own zone. 3 shots.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 7. His hustle drew an interference call on a pic to negate an Arizona Power Play. Good positioning on the forecheck and then intercepted a clumsy pass and funneled it up to Nugent-Hopkins for the 4-1. Earned the primary assist on the Kulak goal. 3rd Period breakaway but his back-hand deke was stopped. Has been since he has been back.

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BRETT KULAK. 6. His elite skating skills were on full display to erase a would-be Arizona breakaway by Maccelli in the 2nd. Corralled his man but got no puck support from his forwards on the 3-1. Walked in and fired a laser off a hard-working flurry by Holloway and Yamamoto for the 5-1. His man deflected home the 8-2.

TYSON BARRIE. 8. Primary assist on the 1-0. Threw a lovely cross-seam pass to Nugent-Hopkins on a 1st period PP. Wrist shot off a 2-on-1 feed from Ryan. On the ice but not at fault on the 3-1. Diving block broke up an Arizona 2-on-1. Zone entry on the 8-1. 3 shots, +2. High Dangers 6-2. Led the club in TOI at 22:40. The Oilers best D-man tonight.

JAMES HAMBLIN. 5. Good defensive stick at his own blueline in the 1st. Hustled. A shot.

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DYLAN HOLLOWAY. 7. Drew a penalty in the 1st by tucking his shoulder into Nemeth on a hard net drive. Tremendous shift late in the 2nd where he created a chance, just missed one of his own, and then finally drew the 2nd assist on Kulak’s 5-1 goal. Hard 3rd Period net drive but the puck wobbled wide. Led the Oilers in 5v5 CF at 14-3, 82%.A very noticeable 15:05 of TOI.

JESSE PULJUJARVI. 5. 3 shots credited although none particularly dangerous.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 6. Looked much better tonight after the benching last game. Walked in from the point and ripped a hard wrist shot early in the 2nd. 3 shots 3 hits. 22:0q in a boucne-back effort.

PHILIP BROBERG. 6. Second assist on the 2-0. Inadvisable reverse in own zone led to a long Arizona shift in the Edmonton zone. But over-all a solid effort.

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DEVIN SHORE. 5. 80% on faceoffs. Worked hard, fought the puck a fair bit. 3rd Period minor.

KLIM KOSTIN. 8. The Gordie Howe hat trick for the big forward. Rattled the boards with a hit on Nemeth. Later, calmly cleared the zone and then putted a smart pass up the middle which Derek Ryan deposited for the 2-0. Could not clear the zone up the wall on the 3-1 against, although the bounce did him no favors. Laser wrist shot glove side high on the 6-1. Finally, took on and bloodied the nose of Zack Kassian in a late scrap. 3 hits. Opening some eyes…

DEREK RYAN. 7. Had a very good night. Scored an industrious goal for the 2-0 by grabbing a Kostin area pass, battling past 2 defenders, and then depositing a skillful for-back-for-back deke. Fed Barrie on a 2nd Period 2-on-1. Lost his check on the 3-1. Forced a 3rd Period turnover which Kostin deposited for the 6-1. 1:19 short handed.

The Oilers are now 15-12 for 30 points in 27 games. That is good for 4th in the Pacific, and in the 1st Wild Card spot. Minnesota is up next.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins, on Instagram at LeavinsOnHockey, and now on Mastodon at KurtLeavins@mstdn.social

Recently, at The Cult…

STAPLES: Jesse Puljujarvi interview reveals much

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Seattle Kraken to release Shane Wright for World Juniors – TSN

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The Seattle Kraken have loaned forward Shane Wright to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championship in Halifax and Moncton.

Wright, 18, is expected to report to Team Canada in Moncton on Thursday, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger.

The 6-foot centre is fresh off scoring his first NHL goal on Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens in a 4-2 loss for the Kraken. He has a goal and an assist in eight NHL games this season. He had four goals in five games during a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds. 

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Drafted fourth overall by Seattle in June, Wright is the sixth player in Canadian Hockey League history to be granted exceptional status to join the OHL a year early. He won CHL Rookie of the Year in 2020. The Burlington, Ont., product had 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 games with the Kingston Frontenacs in 2021-22. 

Internationally, he captained Canada to gold at the 2021 IIHF U18s, where he was second in tournament scoring with nine goals and 14 points in five games. Wright was named to the 2022 World Juniors team but only played in two games before it was cancelled. He did not participate in the rescheduled tournament in August where Canada won gold. 

The tournament is set to run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Canada kicks off its tournament on Boxing Day against Czechia on TSN at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

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