The pressure continues to mount against Hockey Canada over how it handled sexual-assault allegations involving Team Canada players.
In recent months, Ottawa seized the national organization’s federal funding and ordered a set of public hearings; a Globe investigation found that Hockey Canada used two multimillion-dollar funds to pay out sexual assault claims; and Hockey Canada appointed a new interim chair amid calls for a leadership overhaul.
Now, Hockey Canada’s highest-profile sponsors, and two of the country’s largest provincial hockey associations, are pulling their support from the organization. CEO Scott Smith and the board of directors resigned Tuesday following calls for change at the top of the organization.
Here is a list of companies who are suspending or cancelling their sponsorships, which will be updated as more information is released.
Hockey Canada’s official equipment provider, Bauer Hockey, is pulling financial support for the men’s teams – including providing free equipment such as helmets and gloves – and has been speaking with potential new candidates about running to replace current members of the organization’s board.
Bauer, which had already paused its sponsorship in the summer over Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations, said it was taking additional steps because of recent developments, including a meeting it held with top executives at the organization.
“They came across as trying to convince us that there were going to be blue skies ahead, but they didn’t have anything concrete to demonstrate their willingness, let alone a strategy, that would change the current dynamic,” Bauer CEO Ed Kinnaly said.
“It felt a lot more like a PR plan than an action plan,” vice-president of global marketing Mary-Kay Messier said.
“We’re deeply concerned by the ongoing reports around Hockey Canada,” spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John wrote in a statement, calling for “substantive action” to transform hockey for the future.
“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and await more information regarding Hockey Canada’s actions to address the findings in these investigations and create a safe environment for all athletes,” she wrote.
On Wednesday, Tim Hortons announced their previous decision to suspend sponsorship of Hockey Canada this summer would be extended for all men’s hockey for the 2022-23 season. The national coffee chain will have no sponsorship presence at the World Junior championship tournament, which is being held this winter in Halifax.
“We’ve communicated to Hockey Canada on many occasions that the organization needs to take strong and definitive action before it can regain the faith and trust of Canadians,” Michael Oliveira, Tim Hortons director of communications, wrote in a statement. “We’re deeply disappointed in the lack of progress that Hockey Canada has made to date.”
Tim Hortons, which is owned by Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International, suspended support in June in the early days of the controversy, alongside many other big-name sponsors.
Bank of Nova Scotia
Bank of Nova Scotia has also suspended its Hockey Canada sponsorship, including support for men’s hockey throughout the 2022-23 season and the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.
“From Hockey Canada, we expect a tangible commitment to transparency with Canadians, strong leadership, accountability with their stakeholders and the hockey community, and improved safety both on and off the ice,” Scotiabank spokesperson Doug Johnson said in a statement. “Ultimately our position hasn’t wavered: the time for change is long overdue.”
In June, Scotiabank announced that it would “pause” its Hockey Canada sponsorship following the organization’s handling of sexual assault allegations. “The time for change is long overdue,” CEO Brian Porter wrote in an open letter published to The Globe. “We call on Hockey Canada to move with a sense of urgency in order to ensure that the game we love is held to the highest standards.”
Late on Wednesday night, Telus Corp. also confirmed it was pulling support. “We are deeply disheartened by the lack of action and commitment from Hockey Canada to drive necessary cultural change,” Telus spokesperson Richard Gilhooley wrote in a statement.
The company has been a marketing partner of the organization since 2004, and sponsors the Telus Cup, Canada’s national under-18 ice hockey club championship. It is currently unclear how the sponsorship pause will affect 2023′s event.
Esso parent company Imperial Oil confirmed on Thursday that it would pull support for men’s programs for the 22-23 season and would not support the tournament, “until we see meaningful accountability, transparency and change.” The company has been a marketing partner since 1981.
On Thursday, Canadian Tire Corp. said that it is ending its Hockey Canada sponsorship for good. The company is the first sponsor to take the step of permanently cutting off its support for the organization.
“In our view, Hockey Canada continues to resist meaningful change and we can no longer confidently move forward together,” Jane Shaw, Canadian Tire’s senior vice-president of communications, wrote in a statement on Thursday.
In the statement, Ms. Shaw wrote that Canadian Tire will redirect money it spent on the Hockey Canada sponsorship to “hockey-related organizations that better align with our values.” One of them is The Respect Group, an organization dedicated to preventing bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
On Thursday, Sobeys parent company Empire Co. Ltd. confirmed that it chose not to renew its sponsorship when the deal expired in June. Sobeys’ partnership with Hockey Canada was limited to sponsorship of the Women’s National Hockey team, and the company is exploring how to continue to support that team directly without any involvement of Hockey Canada.
“When our contract with Hockey Canada expired at the end of June, we chose not to renew our sponsorship because we were disgusted by all of the allegations and, as importantly, Hockey Canada’s unwillingness to make meaningful change to earn back the trust of Canadians and ensure everyone feels welcome and safe when playing the sport,” spokesperson Karen White-Boswell wrote in a statement.
Chevrolet Canada also confirmed on Thursday that its sponsorship remains paused. The company said there is no change to the decision it made in June to pause its sponsorship activities, and reiterated a statement that the company is seeking “clarity on what specific steps the organization has and will take following the alleged incidents of abuse.”
Hockey Nova Scotia
Hockey Nova Scotia announced on Twitter on Thursday that its board of directors met for an emergency meeting and issued a statement saying “Hockey Nova Scotia has lost confidence in Hockey Canada’s senior leadership. Hockey families and non-hockey families alike agree: Change is needed at the highest levels of the game.”
Hockey Nova Scotia is suspending the transfer of participant assessment fees to Hockey Canada for the 2022-23 season.
Hockey Manitoba on Thursday asked Hockey Canada’s leadership team and board of directors to step down. A defender of Hockey Canada previously, Hockey Manitoba asked for the resignations in the wake of an emergency meeting that occurred on Wednesday night.
In doing so, it became the first provincial hockey body to request wholesale changes atop the organization that oversees hockey in Canada.
Hockey Quebec’s board of directors passed a resolution on Tuesday, saying it has lost “confidence” in the national federation and will withhold a $3 fee that Hockey Canada collects from each player for general registration costs.
“Following the latest information uncovered in recent days and months concerning the Hockey Canada situation, Hockey Quebec’s Board of Directors is very concerned,” the resolution from Hockey Quebec said. “We do not have confidence in the ability of the Federation to act effectively to change the culture of hockey under its current structure.”
Hockey Quebec said it is working to identify new options to insure its players, outside of Hockey Canada’s insurance framework. The association said it will request a financial report from Hockey Canada “on the use of all funds that Hockey Quebec will have transferred to Hockey Canada.”
The $3 general-registration fee represents about $900,000 worth of revenue for Hockey Canada, including roughly $261,000 from Quebec, based on recent player numbers.
Ontario Hockey Federation
The Ontario Hockey Federation also informed Hockey Canada it does not want their $3 player fees collected this year, and is awaiting a confirmation they will be halted.
Phillip McKee, executive director of the Ontario Hockey Federation, told The Globe that his organization told Hockey Canada in July that it wanted that portion of its registration fees frozen, but Hockey Canada’s then-board chair Michael Brind’Amour never took the request to the board.
The $3 general-registration fee amounts to roughly $640,000 in revenue for Hockey Canada from the Ontario Hockey Federation, based on recent player numbers.
With reports from Grant Robertson, Susan Krashinsky Robertson and Marty Klinkenberg.