CHL appoints three members to Independent Review Panel on abuse

Former New Brunswick Premier Camille Henri Theriault, left, will chair an Independent Review Panel to review the current policies and practices in the league that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The Canadian Hockey League has named three people to an Independent Review Panel that will review league policies and offer opinions on ways the league can create a safer environment for its players.

Former New Brunswick Premier Camille Thériault will chair the panel, which also includes former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and former police officer and development coach Danièle Sauvageau. The group is tasked with reviewing “the current policies and practices in the league that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies,” the CHL said in a statement.

“The CHL is committed to the 1,400 young men who play in our league and the protection of our players has been and will always be our primary concern,” CHL President Dan MacKenzie said in a statement. “This is why we have assembled this Independent Review Panel to review the effectiveness of our current policies, player experience programs and procedures for reporting off-ice misconduct, to help ensure that we are providing the safest environment free of hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying.”

The CHL announced in late June that it would be forming this review panel after multiple players spoke up about abuse they experienced while playing in the CHL. A lawsuit was filed against the league and its 60 teams by former players Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor that alleged graphic abuse at the hands of older players and alleged coaches didn’t step in to stop it.

“This case is on behalf of underage minors who suffered violent hazing, physical and sexual assault and psychological trauma while playing major junior hockey,” Carcillo said in a statement in June. “I was one of those kids when I played in the OHL. I know there are many more just like me.”

The CHL says that it would like the review panel to complete its report in time for the start of the 2020-21 season, which is tentatively scheduled for the first week of October but could change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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