Bauer Hockey is putting its partnership with Hockey Canada on ice as the national sport organization continues to draw fierce criticism for its handling of alleged sexual assaults.
"The allegations against and continued and repeated breach of trust by Hockey Canada’s leadership are extremely disturbing and warrant change," Bauer CEO Ed Kinnaly and vice-president of global marketing Mary-Kay Messier said in a statement Tuesday.
"We have lost confidence in Hockey Canada’s leadership."
The company said it's pausing its role as the official equipment provider to Hockey Canada's men's teams and its sponsorship of men's tournaments.
In a story published Tuesday morning in the Globe and Mail, Kinnaly and Messier went even further, describing how they were left unimpressed after an Aug. 31 meeting the company had with Hockey Canada CEO Scott Smith and since-departed chair of the board Andrea Skinner.
“They came across as trying to convince us that there were going to be blue skies ahead, but they didn’t have anything concrete to demonstrate their willingness, let alone a strategy, that would change the current dynamic,” Kinnaly said.
“It felt a lot more like a PR plan than an action plan," said Messier. "It seemed more like self-preservation versus serving the Canadian people. ... For us it was a complete disconnect in any openness to thinking about radical change.”
Hockey Canada will be able to purchase gear for men's programs, with profits being invested in hockey programs for girls, women and other underrepresented communities, Bauer said.
The hockey equipment maker will continue to supply equipment to the women's programs.
"Our aim is to drive management change and policy change, not impact athletes," Bauer said.
"For too long, Hockey Canada has been singularly focused on competitive hockey. We believe wholesale change is required to ensure the mission is focused on growing the game and creating a fun, safe atmosphere that welcomes all who want the opportunity to play."
Bauer's move follows similar announcements by sponsors including Nike, Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons.
It also comes after Andrea Skinner resigned as the interim chair of Hockey Canada's board of directors.
Canada's Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge called Skinner's resignation a step in the right direction, but said Hockey Canada must continue to transition to a new leadership team.
"It must now be followed by a process of meaningful change in Hockey Canada's values and culture," St-Onge said in a statement Sunday. "We hope that the remaining members work actively toward the transition to a new leadership and governance team."