Hockey Canada, the national governing body for the sport, announced drastic changes to the organization’s leadership Tuesday as CEO Scott Smith will leave immediately and the board of directors also will be stepping down.
An interim management committee will be put in place until a new board appoints a replacement CEO, Hockey Canada said in a statement.
The moves are being made in recognition of “the urgent need for new leadership and perspectives,” Hockey Canada’s statement reads. “Pursuant to Hockey Canada’s By-Laws, the Board will ask its Members to select a new slate of directors by no later than the forthcoming virtual election scheduled for December 17, 2022.”
The shakeup comes in the midst of several scandals, including an ongoing investigation into Hockey Canada’s lack of action following the alleged sexual assault of a woman in London, Ontario, by members of the Canadian world junior team in 2018.
Canadian broadcaster TSN reported in May the governing body settled a lawsuit filed by the woman against Hockey Canada, the players and the Canadian Hockey League. The Globe and Mail newspaper of Toronto later reported the organization used money from the organization’s National Equity Fund, which is maintained in part by player registration fees, to settle abuse claims.
In June, the Canadian government announced it was freezing federal, public funding for Hockey Canada until the organization had submitted the complete results of the original investigation and plans for implementing change within Hockey Canada. Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge said, “This is about changing a deeply entrenched culture, it’s not about simple Band-Aid solutions.”
The next month, the governing body acknowledged that the handling of the situation was “not perfect” and it had not done enough following the 2018 alleged sexual assault.
“We know you are angry and disappointed in Hockey Canada – rightfully so,” the organization wrote in an open letter this summer. “We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 National Junior Team, or to end the culture of toxic behavior within our game. For that we unreservedly apologize.”
A week later, Hockey Canada said that it would conduct a full governance review overseen by an independent third party. The organization also announced that it would no longer use the National Equity Fund to settle sexual assault claims.
Hockey Canada’s current board will continue to fulfill its fiduciary duties until the new board is elected, the Tuesday statement read.