Amid low tickets gross sales, a flight of sponsors and a nationwide scandal of sexual assault allegations, Hockey Canada seems to be attempting to “salvage” its World Juniors championship, says one knowledgeable.
The event acquired underway on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alta., with hundreds of tickets nonetheless out there. It was postponed late final yr because of the Omicron variant surge.
Within the months since, the nationwide group has turn into embroiled in condemnation and controversy over its dealing with of the allegations. Consequently, regional tourism physique Discover Edmonton, informed International Information, it paused promotion of the event in July.
“Because the host metropolis for the upcoming event, we proceed to have discussions with Hockey Canada officers about their plans to handle the necessity for change,” mentioned Traci Bednard, CEO of Discover Edmonton.
For sports activities tradition knowledgeable Dan Mason, that’s not an enormous shock.
“Hockey Canada is hurting as a result of they’re missing sponsorship and the same old promotion that they get. I don’t assume it’s essentially one thing that they might actually wish to be doing anyway, given the circumstances that they’re in,” mentioned Mason, a professor of sport administration on the College of Alberta.
“I believe they’re simply attempting to salvage this chance to have some participant growth.”
The World Juniors is the worldwide championship for gamers aged 20 or youthful competing for spots on groups run by the nationwide hockey league.
It’s run by the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which confirmed final week it’s now among the many rising variety of official our bodies investigating Hockey Canada over its dealing with of sexual assault allegations. The Zurich, Switzerland-based world governing physique for ice hockey mentioned it desires extra info amid a continued storm of criticism and condemnation, which has rocked Hockey Canada to its core.
“These are deeply troubling incidents that the IIHF takes extraordinarily critically,” the group informed International Information on Aug. 1.
TSN first reported in Might that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit by which a younger girl, “E.M.”, alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey gamers together with members of the 2018 Canadian World Juniors staff following a gala organized by the group.
Within the months since, Hockey Canada has been engulfed in scrutiny together with: three parliamentary committee conferences specializing in the matter, a funding freeze ordered by the federal sports activities minister, a monetary audit, a renewed prison investigation by police in London, Ont., and an NHL probe.
The group has misplaced a number of main sponsors for the World Juniors event together with Tim Hortons, Telus, Canadian Tire and Scotiabank, and confronted a revolt from provincial hockey organizations vowing to withhold funding. The chair of the board of administrators is gone — although the president Scott Smith stays. Former Supreme Courtroom justice Thomas Cromwell is main a governance evaluation due in November.
Whether or not Smith will stay within the function after that evaluation stays unsure.
In the meantime, Canadian dad and mom are livid, notably over the revelations of a slush fund used to pay out sexual assault claimants utilizing registration charges paid by dad and mom for his or her youngsters to play what Stompin’ Tom Connors as soon as referred to as “the great ol’ hockey sport.”
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Mason mentioned he expects the affect of the revelations will play out in youth enrolment numbers.
On the identical time, some locals who deliberate to attend the World Juniors mentioned they belief that the issues within the group are being taken care of and don’t wish to penalize the gamers.
Randy Thompson spoke to International Information exterior the Rogers Centre in Edmonton. He mentioned he plans to catch just a few video games, and after years of COVID-19 disruption watching the World Juniors looks like a return to a “good custom.”
“I believe it’s on all of our minds and we hope that there’s a optimistic decision to that,” he mentioned of the allegations and the outcry dealing with Hockey Canada.
“However hockey nonetheless is what it’s and we shouldn’t let that have an effect on us too an excessive amount of. I believe we have to keep true to our hockey tradition or hockey custom, and I do know that the precise individuals will deal with issues.”
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The Canadian staff is ready to face off in opposition to Latvia on Wednesday of their first sport of the event.
Group Canada’s head coach André Tourigny mentioned leaders have been emphasizing to gamers that they’re below the highlight, however saved his remarks to the media temporary in regards to the outcry dealing with Hockey Canada.
“We’ve addressed that. We acknowledge that there’s steps to be taken,” mentioned Tourigny earlier this week. “We did a sexual violence factor, we did a code of conduct factor.”
Brenda Andress, who was commissioner of the Canadian Ladies’s Hockey League for 12 years, informed International Information she nonetheless sees a “code of silence” in Canadian sports activities in the case of intercourse abuse and sexual allegations.
She mentioned in an interview final week that many nonetheless have bother wrapping their heads across the extent of the issue.
“Being within the sports activities world so long as I’ve been, there’s a code of silence. There’s a tradition that we’ve got created, and I believe most of us can’t deal with the reality that’s on the market — that’s actually occurring in our sports activities world,” Andress mentioned.
“It’s time that we check out it in lots deeper avenue than we’re presently doing.”
— With recordsdata from International Edmonton’s Morgan Black.
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