With the news this week that business giants Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire, Telus, and others have made it abundantly clear to Hockey Canada that it needs to get its house in order in the wake of its reaction and response to the alleged sexual assault case that occurred during one of its events in London, Ontario a few summers back, maybe it’s time for the International Ice Hockey Federation to stand up, to speak up, and to do the right thing.
And scrap this summer’s do-over of the World Juniors in Edmonton.
Sure, it would be tough for the players who already had their World Junior dreams crushed in December, and it would be a shame for fans who bought tickets once, and then again.
But with corporate Canada stepping up and using its clout, and its collective voice, it’s pretty clear that this is no longer about games on the ice.
This is about a much bigger story, that of cover-ups and backroom dealings, putting hockey above decency, and using the vast sums of money events like the World Juniors bring in for Hockey Canada to settle up with a sexual assault victim and to buy silence while hoping the story just goes away.
Don’t tarnish the logo. Just write a cheque and get on with the business of trying to win trophies.
For years, that way of thinking somehow persisted.
But the smokescreen that Hockey Canada was hiding behind has now vanished, with higher-ups rightfully being called on the carpet, first by Federal government officials last week and now by business leaders across this country.
It feels like we’ve reached that point in time, where Hockey Canada ought to pay a real price, and lose the privilege of playing host to lucrative events like the World Juniors, until true and real changes are made to the way the organization operates.
Sure, the plans are in place for Edmonton later this summer. But until Hockey Canada has its house in order, perhaps it shouldn’t be allowed to throw big parties and invite the world.
So do the right thing, IIHF.
Step in and call off this year’s World Juniors, and hit Hockey Canada with the kind of bodycheck it might actually understand in order to bring about significant change to the way the organization conducts its affairs.
The problem with this theory, of course, is that the IIHF benefits from a successful World Juniors. The chances of hockey’s governing body taking severe sanctions is highly unlikely.
But that makes the federation complicit in all of this, too.
Do we really need teenaged hockey in August? I think most people would say no.
So let’s send the message to all involved that better is expected, and better is now demanded.