Last month, the National Hockey League was advised of a lawsuit involving sexual allegations filed against eight unnamed members of the 2018 Canadian World Junior hockey team. A woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of Canada’s gold medal-winning 2017-18 World Junior team, agreed to drop a lawsuit against the players, Hockey Canada, and the CHL after reaching a settlement. Per TSN’s Rick Westhead, the woman, whose allegations are detailed in court records filed in Ontario Superior Court in London, Ont., on Apr. 20, claimed she was assaulted by players for hours while intoxicated in a hotel room following a Hockey Canada Foundation gala and golf event in the city in June of 2018. The players were not identified in court documents and the allegations were never proven.
Earlier this week, Hockey Canada president Scott Smith and outgoing chief executive Tom Renney testified before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage about the allegations and on Wednesday, it was confirmed that the Canadian government is freezing Hockey Canada’s millions of dollars in federal funding until the organization signs up with a new federal agency that has the power to independently receive and investigate abuse complaints and issue sanctions for inappropriate behaviour.
“This is about changing a deeply entrenched culture, it’s not about simple Band-Aid solutions,” Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge said to Westhead.
“I am going to use all the tools at my disposal to make sure that people are held accountable for what’s happening in hockey,” St-Onge added.
The victim, now 24, did allege in the statement of claim that Hockey Canada was made aware of the alleged assaults and failed to investigate or sanction the players involved.
Last week, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar addressed the sexual assault allegations against Hockey Canada, stating publicly ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals that he was not part of the group of eight players against whom the allegations were launched, and said he doesn’t know much about the alleged events. Makar is being cooperative, but we bet this funds freeze will get Hockey Canada more focused on the victim and what needs to be done to prevent such horrific incidents to take place.