Kim Davis sees only one path forward for Hockey Canada.
The NHL’s executive vice-president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs watched from afar as revelation after damning revelation emerged throughout a scandal-filled spring, summer and fall over how the sport’s most powerful national organization handled sexual-assault allegations.
And following last week’s developments – Scott Smith left Hockey Canada as president and CEO, while the entire board of directors stepped down – Davis says the door is open for the embattled federation to push forward and make a real difference.
“There are certain hallmarks of strong leadership,” she told The Canadian Press in a recent interview. “Leading from the front, owning the problems that need to be solved, being transparent and accountable. We’re at a moment where the world is demanding that of organizations. Hockey Canada should be no different.
“Now that there’s an opportunity to reimagine the board, I’m hoping that reimagining will include that kind of leadership.”
Hockey Canada has received blistering criticism since May when news broke that an undisclosed settlement had been paid to a woman who alleged in a $3.55-million lawsuit she was sexually assaulted in 2018 by eight players – including members of the country’s world junior team – following a gala in London, Ont.
The organization’s world came crashing down in the weeks and months that followed as the scandals piled up, including that a fund maintained by registration fees from players across the country had been used to pay out uninsured liabilities, including sexual-assault and abuse claims.
Hockey Canada then announced days after the release of an “action plan” to address safe sport issues that members of the 2003 world junior team were being investigated for a group sexual assault.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
There were also a series of disastrous hearings on Parliament Hill that left politicians and the public stunned by the lack of accountability from the organization’s leaders.
Set to elect a new board in December, Hockey Canada announced over the weekend it plans to follow the recommendations set out in an interim report by former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, who is conducting an independent governance review.
Those recommendations include the new board of directors being larger and more diverse – something Davis, who is Black, hopes to see.
“We have to be centred around the young people who are impacted by poor leadership of adults,” she said. “I’m hopeful that the future will result in a far more diverse and inclusive board of transparency and accountability.”
Conn Smythe controversy
The NHL released its first-ever comprehensive diversity and inclusion report to the board of governors this week.
The data show close to 84 per cent of league and club employees are white, while Black, Indigenous and people of colour make up just less than 14 per cent.
With a goal of getting that second number up to 25 per cent to mirror fan demographics, Davis was asked if it’s appropriate for the playoff MVP award to still be named after Conn Smythe?
The Toronto Maple Leafs founder reportedly once said he’d pay anyone $10,000 if they could turn Herb Carnegie – a star Black player – white in order to sign him.
“We’ve seen this argument and debate over and over again in our societies, from flags to monuments, all over the world,” Davis said of the Conn Smythe Trophy. “How one group views an individual may be very different than other groups whose lived experience has been different. Should [the trophy name change] happen? I don’t know.
“From my own personal perspective, these artifacts and symbols can be painful. It’s something that we should at least be open to [for] robust debate and understanding.”
Alex Ovechkin sits just 20 goals short of passing Gordie Howe’s mark of 801 for second on the NHL’s all-time goal list after scoring twice Monday against Vancouver.
The Washington Capitals sniper is also tied with Ted Lindsay for second all-time with 121 game-winning goals – 14 back of Jaromir Jagr.
Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record stands at 894.
Bedard blasts out of gate
The presumptive No. 1 pick at the 2023 NHL draft, Connor Bedard has put up some gaudy numbers to start the Western Hockey League season.
The 17-year-old centre – he doesn’t turn 18 until after next June’s draft – was held off the scoresheet in the Regina Pats’ opener, but registered nine goals and 11 assists in 10 games since to lead the WHL in scoring.