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Tim Hortons, Esso withdraw for world juniors in another blow for Hockey Canada – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press


Published Wednesday, June 29, 2022 6:58PM EDT

TORONTO – Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil have joined a growing list of corporations to pull sponsorship dollars in the wake of Hockey Canada’s handling of an alleged sexual assault and out-of-court settlement.

Tim Hortons said Wednesday it is “suspending support” for the upcoming men’s world junior hockey championship this summer in Edmonton as the restaurant chain awaits details on how the national federation intends to take “strong and definitive action” following the “deeply concerning allegations.”

Hockey Canada has communicated that it is committed to changing the culture of hockey to make it safer and more inclusive for all, on and off the ice,” Tim Hortons said in the statement. “We have expressed strongly that we believe Canadians are urgently seeking concrete details from Hockey Canada about how it intends to do so.

“We will re-evaluate our sponsorship agreement once we have all the information we need to consider our options.”

Imperial Oil, which is the head sponsor of the Canadian national women’s under-18 hockey club championship under its Esso brand, also said it is withdrawing support from the world junior championship while continuing to sponsor youth and women’s programs.

The energy company took a more definitive step Wednesday, a day after releasing a statement saying it was “concerned by the recent allegations.”

“Imperial will not be supporting the upcoming 2022 men’s world junior championship with the Esso brand,” the company said Wednesday. “This matter is deeply concerning, and we have communicated our expectations to Hockey Canada that concrete steps must be taken to address safety issues and ensure swift culture change.”

The moves come after Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Telus all paused Hockey Canada sponsorships Tuesday until the companies are confident the right steps are being taken to improve the sport’s culture.

The federal government froze Hockey Canada’s public funding last week.

Hockey Canada quietly settled a lawsuit last month after a woman, now 24, claimed she was assaulted by members of the country’s 2018 gold-medal winning world junior hockey team at a gala and golf function four years ago in London, Ont.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Hockey Canada executives were grilled by legislators on Parliament Hill last week during a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meeting looking into the matter.

Scotiabank president and CEO Brian J. Porter said in an open letter Tuesday that marketing and events at the world juniors will be cancelled.

He said the investments would be redirected into other programs, including one that aims to help eliminate financial barriers for young people in the game, and the women’s world championship.

Canadian Tire said in its statement the company is “deeply disappointed in Hockey Canada’s lack of transparency and accountability around the assault allegations.” In addition to withdrawing support from the world juniors, Canadian Tire said it is “re-evaluating its relationship with Hockey Canada.”

Telus, meanwhile, said it’s redirecting sponsorship money to Canadian organizations that support women affected by sexual violence. The telecommunications giant added it would continue to support women’s events and youth programs.

Business development and partnerships have previously made up 43 per cent of Hockey Canada’s coffers, according to the organization’s most recent numbers, ahead of funding agencies (14 per cent), insurance premiums (13 per cent), interest revenue (10 per cent) and the taxpayer funds (six per cent).

Hockey Canada said last week it needs to “do more” to build a safer culture following a tumultuous few days that included president Scott Smith and outgoing CEO Tom Renney getting called to the floor by parliamentarians.

“Unfortunately, we did not receive many answers,” Pascale St-Onge, the federal government’s minister of sport, told reporters in Ottawa last Wednesday.

She said at the time Hockey Canada would only have its public money restored once officials produced an incomplete report from a third-party law firm hired to investigate the 2018 incident that allegedly involved eight players.

St-Onge added Hockey Canada must also become a signatory to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner, a new government agency with the power to independently investigate abuse complaints and levy sanctions.

The woman who made the assault allegation was seeking $3.55 million in damages from Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the unnamed players.

Details of the settlement have not been publicized, but Smith testified to the committee Hockey Canada came up with the funds and paid the entire sum, adding no government money was used.

St-Onge has ordered an audit to make sure that’s the case.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is set to meet July 26 and 27 to hear from more witnesses. It has also requested a redacted copy of the non-disclosure agreement related to the financial settlement along with a long list of Hockey Canada communications.

St-Onge has said she only learned of the situation on call with Renney days before TSN broke the story last month. Hockey Canada said it informed Sport Canada of the situation in June 2018.

The House of Commons, meanwhile, has unanimously approved a Bloc Quebecois motion to pursue an independent investigation that will look into how Hockey Canada dealt with the allegations.

The organization hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct its investigation, but Smith and Renney told MPs that while players present at the London event were “strongly encouraged” to participate, it was not mandated.

Smith said 12 or 13 of the 19 players from the world junior team at the gala were interviewed by investigators.

Hockey Canada has said repeatedly the woman declined to speak with both police and its third-party law firm.

Smith and Renney reiterated to the committee the woman also chose not to name the players. They added Hockey Canada still does not know the identities of the eight players in question.

The independent investigation ended in September 2020, but Renney testified the report is incomplete and shouldn’t be released despite the fact in contained recommendations.

Smith testified last week on Parliament Hill that Hockey Canada has reported three sexual assault complaints in recent years, including the London incident, but declined to discuss the other two in front of the committee.

The NHL, which has said it also only recently learned of the allegations, is conducting its own investigation because some of the players in question are now in the league.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

7 hours ago

Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore

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Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks

Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.

The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.

The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.

The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.

The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.

Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.

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Watch live for free: Leylah Fernandez vs. Storm Sanders at National Bank Open – Sportsnet.ca

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Update: This stream has ended.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez begins her quest for her first National Bank Open title against qualifier Storm Sanders of Australia, under the lights in Toronto.

Fernandez, still only 19, is returning to action for the first time since suffering a fracture in her foot during the quarterfinals of the French Open on May 31.

The Laval native is the top-ranked Canadian on the WTA Tour after a headline-making run to the U.S. Open final last year.

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