Bauer Hockey has become just the latest company to pause support for scandal-plagued Hockey Canada, an organization that continues to draw widespread criticism for its handling of an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2018 men’s national junior team.
On Tuesday, Bauer Hockey announced it was pausing a multi-million-dollar commitment as the official equipment provider to the Hockey Canada men’s teams.
In a statement, Bauer said Hockey Canada can still buy products for the men’s programs and it will redistribute the profits to “increase accessibility and equity in girl’s, women’s, para hockey and other underrepresented communities.”
The manufacturer said it will continue to supply equipment to the women’s programs.
“Our goal is to drive meaningful change, not impact athletes,” said the statement from chief executive officer Ed Kinnaly and vice-president Mary-Kay Messier.
“Crisis can create opportunity for meaningful change. Our hope is that collectively we start on a path forward soon and that we can use this to bring a renewed focus back to what’s most important for the game of hockey — creating opportunities for kids and families through the game of hockey.”
Bauer’s decision is just the latest domino to fall in reaction to news that the hockey organization has paid out nearly $9 million in settlements since 1989 to 21 people alleging sexual abuse. The bulk of the money went to compensation for complainants in the case of Graham James, a former junior ice hockey coach who was accused of sexually abusing players on his teams.
It later came out that a fund made up in part with players’ registration fees was used to pay for that settlement.
Interim board chair resigns
Over the weekend, Andrea Skinner resigned as a director and interim board chair of Hockey Canada, days after a controversial parliamentary committee meeting where she defended the organization.
In front of MPs, she described Hockey Canada as the victim and said her board doesn’t believe senior leadership “should be replaced on the basis of what we consider to be substantial misinformation and unduly cynical attacks.”
Major sponsors — including Nike, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Esso and Telus — responded by cutting ties with Hockey Canada permanently or by withdrawing funding for men’s hockey this season.