Tom Renney picked a handy time to retire … oh sorry, used that open already. You know what’s almost as convenient as that timing, or more so, is the to-say-the-least surprising revelation that Hockey Canada had been using its National Equity Fund for the purpose of paying off sexual assault claims.
Say what?! Yeah that’s right, that money you recreational hockey players send in to Hockey Canada as membership fees.
Here’s Wednesday’s latest statement from the organization. Another apologetic change of direction.
Effective immediately, the National Equity Fund will no longer be used to settle sexual assault claims. Instead, it will be exclusively dedicated towards safety, wellness and equity initiatives, as well as insurance across our organization – activities which comprised 98 per cent of its resources between 2014 and 2021. This includes counselling and treatment for players, concussion research grants to the Canadian Hockey League, criminal record checks of Hockey Canada staff, donations to Kids Help Phone, as well as a range of safety initiatives including insurance for players and additional support for players who sustain physical injuries. Hockey Canada also commits that, going forward, all National Equity Fund proceeds from registration fees will be dedicated to these safety, wellness and equity initiatives, as well as insurance.
This is like pulling teeth from an unwilling patient who’s been tied to the chair. As CBC reported, the pressure has been building.
Hockey Canada has seen its federal funding cut off and corporate sponsors pause financial support in the wake of the organization’s handling of the alleged assault and settlement that was first reported by TSN in May.
Now, multiple outlets are reporting that Hockey Canada’s lawyers could be taking a pro-active stance, as in, the entire incident that’s been loosely described as an alleged ‘gang rape’ was in fact consensual.
Remember, there was already a civil financial settlement with this case.
Meanwhile, each day, it seems one or two more players from the 2018 World Junior Gold Medal team announce via social media that they had nothing to do with the incident following the Hockey Canada gala in London, Ontario that summer, or that they weren’t even in town for it. That definitely would provide clearance.
It also gets us ticking through the roster to discover who hasn’t yet declared their absolute non-involvement.
Here’s those that have declared innocence/absence, a list that might be incomplete as we speak: Brett Howden, Carter Hart, Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Colton Point, Taylor Raddysh, Sam Steel, Cale Makar, Victor Mete, Conor Timmins and former Vancouver Canucks prospect Jonah Gadjovich.