Amid new calls for wholesale changes among its top executives, Hockey Canada’s board of directors is standing by CEO Scott Smith.
In a brief statement issued on the Hockey Canada website on Monday, interim chair of the board Andrea Skinner, who was appointed to the position on Aug. 9 after the resignation of Michael Brind’Amour, wrote, “Scott Smith and the executive team have the support of the Board of Hockey Canada.”
Skinner’s statement was likely in response to comments by Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, who was asked about Hockey Canada’s leadership while appearing on CBC Radio on Saturday:
“I’m as concerned as all Canadians,” she said. “Also my parliamentary colleagues … have asked for the board to resign and the directors to resign.
“I feel the same, that there needs to be change within the organization.”
St-Onge had previously called for changes at Hockey Canada to Sportsnet, saying, “There needs to be new voices, new ideas and new leadership.”
In her statement, Skinner added, “Our Board is focused on facilitating the implementation of programs for girls and boys and men and women across the country. We are committed to improve our game, including through our governance review, the implementation of our Action Plan and other programs.
“We look forward to informing Canadians about the work and objectives of the Board, and our ongoing efforts to restore the trust of Canadians in hockey and Hockey Canada.”
Smith, 55, took over as CEO from Tom Renney, who retired, on July 1. Smith has been with Hockey Canada in various capacities since 1995. He was most recently COO and president before taking on the CEO title. Smith faced calls for his resignation from all four political parties during parliamentary hearings in July, but stood them down, saying he believed he was the right person to affect change in Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada has faced criticism for its handling of allegations of a group sexual assault involving members of the 2017-18 Canadian world junior team as well as revelations of an alleged group sexual assault involving members of the 2003 Canadian world junior team.
—with files from Sportsnet’s Paul D. Grant