Tom Renney picked a handy time to retire as the Hockey Canada chief executive after eight years at the helm, announced in April and effective July 1st, just a week or so before we started to hear that the manure could hit the fan with the re-emergence of the 2018 World Junior, Team Canada rape scandal.
It’s a somewhat quiet time on the hockey calendar folks, but this thing isn’t going to drift away, nor should it.
I’m sure there’s a handful of people that wish it would, but this is 2022, not 1982.
Just three days ago Hockey Canada published an extensive apology for its botched and/or insufficient investigation into an alleged gang rape following a Hockey Canada event in London, Ontario involving a young woman and eight Canadian hockey players. In its “Open Letter to All Canadians” Hockey Canada brought up a number of issues related to accountability for everyone involved in the program and to recognize and eliminate toxic behaviour.
But the most important paragraph within it might make a number of people more than a little bit nervous, which potentially includes players that may or may not be presently playing in the NHL.
Among the many current big league players that were on that roster, again, no implications, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou of the St. Louis Blues, goalie Carter Hart of the Flyers, and Drake Batherson of the Ottawa Senators. In other words, as usual for Hockey Canada, a roster made up of a who’s who of young players.
BC natives on the team included Dillon Dubé from Golden, Dante Fabbro from Coquitlam, and Boris Katchouk from Vancouver. Former Vancouver Canucks draft pick and prospect Jonah Gadjovich was also on the roster.
- We are reopening the investigation into the alleged sexual assault perpetrated by members of the 2018 National Junior Team. This investigation continues to be led by an independent third party and will require all players to participate. Those who do not will be banned from all Hockey Canada activities and programs effective immediately. The investigation, once complete, will be referred to an independent adjudicative panel of current and former judges who will determine the appropriate consequences, which may include a lifetime ban from Hockey Canada activity, on and off the ice. We acknowledge the courage of the young woman involved and respect her decision to participate with the investigation in the manner she chooses.
Apparently there were eight players involved. Weirdly coincidental, not to draw any conclusions of course, just from a statistical standpoint, there were eight Ontario Hockey Leaguers on the squad and eight Western Hockey Leaguers. There were also four college kids and a couple of young pros on the Gold Medal roster.
I was at the championship game, to refresh your memory, it’s when Canada beat Sweden 3-1 in the final in Buffalo and a few from Tre Kronor acted like jerks upon losing, including team captain Lias Andersson who threw his silver medal into the stands.
Little did we know at the time that poor losing was the least of the tournament’s problems, although the incident occurred in the summer when the team and others got together for a Hockey Canada gala.
In an article on the same day of last week’s Hockey Canada apology and realignment letter, an article in Barron’s pointed out that civil litigation regarding the incident had concluded with a settlement.
A lawsuit filed in April by the woman, identified only as “E.M.” in court documents, against Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and the players had been settled without attracting attention until local reports began circulating at the beginning of June about the alleged rape.
That leaves what, the criminal realm? Hockey careers in the balance? Needless to say, that attention is back.
Less than a year ago the hockey world finally got to the bottom of the Chicago Blackhawks Kyle Beach scandal that had unfolded more than a decade ago. The Hockey Canada folks don’t appear to have that ‘luxury’. Times have changed, the concepts of accountability and culpability have peaked, and consequences wait around the corner.