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Hockey Canada is appointing Katherine Henderson, shown in a handout photo, as its next president and chief executive officer. She spent the last seven years as Curling Canada's CEO.HO/The Canadian Press

Hockey Canada announced Tuesday that Katherine Henderson, a veteran of the not-for-profit sports sector, would be its new president and CEO, prompting a major sponsor to immediately reinstate the financial support it had pulled from the organization amid a sexual assault scandal last year.

Ms. Henderson served for the past seven years as the president and chief executive officer of Curling Canada and has extensive experience in high-performance sports, including as the senior vice-president of marketing and revenue for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games organizing committee. She also served for a decade on the board of Rugby Canada.

“Katherine has the track record and experience to lead the ongoing transformation of Hockey Canada,” Hugh Fraser, the chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors, said in a statement. “With her at the helm we are confident that we will continue to take the steps necessary to ensure hockey is a safe and inclusive sport and that Hockey Canada benefits from best-in-class governance.”

On Tuesday, Bauer Hockey cheered Ms. Henderson’s appointment and announced it would restore its Hockey Canada partnership.

Last October, the CEO and board of Hockey Canada resigned en masse, months after news broke that the organization had greenlit a multimillion-dollar settlement with a woman who alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a number of players on Canada’s world junior team after a Hockey Canada-sponsored event in London, Ont., in the spring of 2018.

Police in London reopened an investigation into the incident last July.

The Globe and Mail reported that Hockey Canada’s little-known National Equity Fund – including player fees collected from families across the country – had been used to pay for uninsured liabilities, including sexual-abuse claims.

In the aftermath of the disclosures, a flood of major sponsors suspended their partnerships with Hockey Canada, including Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Telus and Esso, representing a multimillion-dollar hit to the organization’s budget. And the government hammered the organization for its ham-fisted response to the crisis.

After an appearance before a parliamentary committee in which the interim board chair suggested Hockey Canada was a victim of “unduly cynical attacks,” Pascale St-Onge, the federal Sports Minister, said she hoped the leadership would “leave before they burn it to the ground,” adding that the organization “needs to be rebuilt.”

In April, the federal government resumed funding Hockey Canada. On Tuesday, the minister’s office said she was unavailable for comment.

In October, Bauer paused its role as the official equipment provider of Hockey Canada’s men’s team, announcing it would continue to support the women’s team and focus on increasing “accessibility and equity in girl’s, women’s, para hockey and other underrepresented communities.”

The changes Hockey Canada has made over the past several months brought Bauer back to the table.

“As much as we publicly recognized the serious challenges at Hockey Canada, we believe we now need to acknowledge the progress the organization has made in several key areas,” Mary-Kay Messier, Bauer’s vice-president of global marketing, said in a statement.

“While there is more work to do, Hockey Canada has implemented many of the proposals from the independent Cromwell report and as announced today hired a seasoned leader to serve as CEO.” (Last November, the organization accepted the recommendations of a third-party governance review conducted by the retired justice Thomas Cromwell.)

“We believe now is the time for corporate partners, broadcast sponsors and community leaders to support Hockey Canada. At the same time, we must all continue to hold the organization accountable for creating and executing a new vision that reflects our Canadian communities and provides equitable and enriching experiences for all to play the game.”

Other sponsors who had suspended their partnerships did not respond to The Globe’s requests for comment.

Hockey Canada noted in its press release that, during her time at Curling Canada, Ms. Henderson “successfully led initiatives to introduce new Canadians to the sport, spearheaded pay equity for Canada’s men’s and women’s curling teams, and drove a financial turnaround of the organization’s business model.”

The press release included a statement from Ms. Henderson, a former hockey mom, that hinted at the reputational hit the sport has suffered over the past few years of revelations about its toxic culture.

“As a winter sport nation, with a long tradition in our ice and snow sports, playing and watching hockey is undeniably a part of who we are as Canadians,” Ms. Henderson said, adding that she would work “to ensure that all Canadians have a personal hockey experience that is right for them.”

Hockey Canada did not make Ms. Henderson available for an interview. She will begin her new role on Sept. 4.

Tim Powers, who served on the board of Rugby Canada with Ms. Henderson, praised the appointment.

“She’s got an EQ and political radar that is so valuable in this time,” said Mr. Powers, the chair of Ottawa-based consulting firm Summa Strategies.

“Not only does she have the high performance skills, not only does she understand sport business and how to make it work, but she has those intangibles that other Canadian sports leaders do not necessarily have yet, or are just developing. Particularly in the Hockey Canada role, in a culture that’s undergone a lot of change – and more change is necessary – having somebody with Kathy’s sense and experience and knowledge is valuable.”

With reports from Susan Krashinsky-Robertson and Rachel Brady.

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