Scandal on the ice could have been prevented

Now that five hockey players from the 2018 gold medal Canada Junior Hockey team have been arraigned in court, it is worthwhile to consider the implications and changes that should be brought forth not only for registered hockey players but for all registered amateur athletes in Canada. Four of the named players play in the National Hockey League while the fifth is employed with a European team.

In June of 2018, the girl’s stepfather gave notice to Hockey Canada about the incident and Hockey Canada’s Insurance company notified the London police of the incident.  They opened an investigation and closed the case in 2019. Hockey Canada closed their investigation after.

In 2022 the victim brought forth a claim against Hockey Canada for the abuse she suffered.  The settlement was made by Hockey Canada hoping to bury the claim of sexual assault.  In Hockey Canada’s Safety Persons Code of Ethics section 7 says “Always put the player’s best interests first”.  Yes, they were accomplishing that item by hiding the settlement from the public.  And historically the code was “What happens inside the dressing room and outside is never spoken about.

It was TSN that reported that Hockey Canada had reached a settlement in the $3.5 million case.  It became a national scandal. It became an NHL scandal and Gary Bateman opened his own investigation. London Police reopened the case. The Hockey Canada Board resigned.

On October 1, 2022, Hockey Canada adopted a new Code of Conduct Policy.  This new Code of Conduct states in Responsibilities article

v.) “Maintain and enhance the dignity and self-esteem of anyone affiliated with Hockey Canada by:

 b). Demonstrating respect toward all people through actions and words; and

d.) Consistently demonstrating the spirit of fair play, sport leadership and ethical conduct.

h.) Refraining from the use of power or authority in an attempt to coerce another person to engage in inappropriate activities

Section vi: Refrain from any behavior that constitutes sexual harassment, where sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual comments and sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature.

The ten-page document should be made compulsory reading by all athletes 13 years and older, their parents, coaches, referees and should be signed annually by each of those persons enrolled with Hockey Canada.

The London police produced the charges against the five players.  The NHL completed their review and investigation but have chosen not to make it public until after the trial.  The league does not want any more embarrassment. 

It should never have come to this. The 2018 complaint by the young woman should have been taken more seriously by the London Police.  The 2018 Junior Hockey Gold medalist should have been schooled in ethics and moral behavior by their parents, coaches, and Hockey Canada.