'I was appalled': Major sponsors distance themselves from Hockey Canada amid allegations
The governing body of Canada's national pastime has lost three major sponsors following an alleged sexual assault scandal.
On Tuesday, Scotiabank and Telus announced they were pausing their sponsorship of Hockey Canada due to an investigation of a 2018 sexual assault allegation against members of Canada's world junior hockey team.
Canadian Tire went one step further, saying it's withdrawing its financial support for the upcoming world junior tournament in Moncton and Halifax.
An unidentified woman filed a lawsuit in April claiming she was repeatedly assaulted in a hotel room in London, On, after a Hockey Canada golf tournament and gala event.
The woman alleged in her lawsuit some of the men who attacked her were members of the 2018 gold-medal-winning team from four years ago.
Hockey Canada has since reportedly settled the lawsuit for an unknown amount and the allegations against the players have never been proven.
In a statement released Tuesday, Scotiabank Cheif Executive Officer Brian Porter said in part;
“I was appalled by the recent reports of alleged assault involving younger ambassadors of Canada’s game.”
“The alleged behaviour in this current case is contrary to the beliefs and values that hockey is meant to embody, and those that we champion at Scotiabank, as Canada’s hockey bank.”
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said they are watching the situation closely.
"We're certainly calling on Hockey Canada to be more transparent. More transparency is what's needed for sure. We made a commitment to the World Juniors at Christmas time and that commitment stands," said Houston.
Freelance journalist Will MacLaren covers the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for The Hockey News. The Halifax-based writer doesn't believe the world juniors are in jeopardy but thinks some fans may stay away from Team Canada's games.
"I think that's a distinct possibility and I think that ties in as well with what we're seeing with the sponsorship situation," said MacLaren.
"To be perfectly blunt, perhaps there's some people within the Hockey Canada community that will feel a greater impact if they were hit in the wallet than if they were based on personal feelings."
Craig Eagles has been involved in hockey all his life, as a player, coach, broadcaster and as a junior scout. He calls the current situation a black eye for Hockey Canada.
"With so many sponsors pulling out, especially from a federal standpoint as well, Hockey Canada might struggle. Will they struggle from a hockey product on the ice? No, it's every kid's dream to play for Canada, for their country. But, financially this is going to hurt," said Eagles.
The 2023 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship is set to begin on Boxing Day at Moncton's Avenir Centre and Halifax's Scotiabank Centre.
Tim Denis is joined by Cara Krezek, Director, Co-op, Career & Experiential Education at Brock U, and Stephen Murdoch, VP PR Enterprise Canada/Teacher Niagara College