Still from a game during the IIHF world junior championship, sponsored by Hockey Canada. (Submitted: Hockey Canada)

Hockey Canada announced on Oct. 11 that its CEO, Scott Smith, and his board stepped down in the wake of the organization’s sexual assault scandal.

The resignations were brought upon by pressure from Canada’s minister of sport and provincial hockey programs to change the organization’s leadership to inspire change in a toxic and dangerous hockey environment. 

The Aquinian has compiled a timeline of key events to understand what happened and how the organization got to this point.

June 19, 2018

An anonymous woman’s stepfather claimed the woman was sexually assaulted by eight men after leaving a Hockey Canada Foundation Gala and Golf event in London, Ont.

Hockey Canada claimed it spoke with its insurance provider and informed the London Police Service of what happened, according to Sportsnet. London police opened an investigation into the allegation.

Hockey Canada also claimed to have opened an internal investigation with criminal defence firm Henein Hutchison LLP.

February 2019 

Hockey Canada claimed that the London Police Service closed its investigation and that the woman declined to speak to neither the police nor Hockey Canada about the allegations.

September 2020

Hockey Canada said it closed its internal investigation because the eight players could not be identified and because the woman would not identify them. 

April 2022 

The woman filed a $3.55 million lawsuit against Hockey Canada. The lawsuit restated that eight men assaulted her in a London, Ont. hotel room after the event on June 19, 2018.

According to reporting by TSN, court records filed on April 20 to the Ontario Superior Court in London, Ont., show Canadian Hockey League players included, but were not limited to, members of the Canada U20 Men’s Junior Hockey Team. The players were unnamed.

The woman alleged in the claim that Hockey Canada failed to investigate or reprimand the men, despite being informed earlier of what happened on June 19, 2018. 

Eighteen of the 21 players from the 2018 World Juniors team play in the NHL.

Following news of the lawsuit, the NHL issued this statement in May 2022: “We will endeavour to determine the underlying facts and, to the extent this may involve players who are now in the NHL, we will determine what action, if any, would be appropriate.”

June 20, 2022 

Then-CEO of Hockey Canada Tom Renney and then-President Scott Smith testified before parliament at a meeting about Hockey Canada’s handling of the sexual assault allegations. Smith and Renney explained that the 19 players who were present in London in June 2018 were “strongly encouraged” to meet with external investigators, but the players’ participation was not mandatory.

Smith says that Hockey Canada has reported three allegations of sexual assault in recent years, adding to the 2018 assault claim. 

June 2022 

Canada’s minister of sport, Pascale St-Onge, announced the government would freeze federal funding of Hockey Canada, and sponsors began to withdraw their support of the organization, including Tim Hortons and Imperial Oil.

June 30, 2022 

CEO Tom Renney retires from Hockey Canada. Allegedly, this is unrelated to the escalation of the sexual assault scandal.

July 1, 2022 

Scott Smith takes over as CEO, while also maintaining his position as president.

July 14, 2022

Hockey Canada announced it would reopen a third-party investigation into the alleged 2018 assault after pressure from the government, sponsors and the public. Participation in this investigation would be mandatory and anyone who declined to participate would be banned from all events associated with Hockey Canada.

July 18 to 19, 2022 

The Canadian Press reported that Hockey Canada had a “National Equity Fund” that uses minor hockey membership fees to pay for uninsured liabilities, which would include legal fees for sexual assault cases. These fees were hidden in the detailed cost given to families and players. Hockey Canada confirmed this to be true. 

In a statement, Hockey Canada said, “The fund is also used to pay for the organization’s insurance premiums and to cover any claims not otherwise covered by insurance policies, including those related to physical injury, harassment and sexual misconduct.”

July 20, 2022 

Hockey Canada claimed it would no longer use the “National Equity Fund” to settle sexual assault claims.

July 22, 2022 

A new investigation began. The 2003 World Juniors team is being investigated for a group sexual assault. Hockey Canada said it reached out to the Halifax Regional Police, as Halifax co-hosted the WJC that year.

July 27, 2022 

 Hockey Canada’s financial officer, Brian Cairo, said the organization used the “National Equity Fund” to pay $7.6 million since 1989 in nine different settlements related to sexual assault, not including the settlement related to the 2018 incident.

CEO and President Scott Smith resists calls for his resignation from members of parliament.

Aug. 5. 2022 

Hockey Quebec announced that every provincial and territorial branch of Hockey Canada requested more information be released about the handling of the 2018 alleged assault. 

Sept. 29, 2022 

CBC’s The Fifth Estate released a detailed investigation of police records that found there were 15 sexual assault allegations since 1989 that involved junior hockey players. 

Oct. 5, 2022 

Hockey Quebec voted to leave Hockey Canada amid the allegations. 

Oct. 11, 2022 

Scott Smith resigned as CEO of Hockey Canada, according to a statement from the organization. The board of directors also agreed to step down to make way for “significant changes to its leadership team.”

Hockey Canada continues to lose partnerships with major brands such as Bauer, their equipment provider, and Canadian Tire. It remains unclear if the 2023 WJC co-hosted by Halifax and Moncton will move forward as planned this Winter in lieu of the recent discoveries.  

While the investigations are ongoing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that Hockey Canada lost the confidence of its members, families involved in the sport and their sponsors at the national and regional levels. 

“Parents across the country are losing faith or have lost faith in Hockey Canada. Certainly, politicians here in Ottawa have lost faith in Hockey Canada,” said Trudeau. 

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