Right in the centre - Hockey Canada went way offside


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Bad governance is simply the application of wrong information to decision making and decision implementation. No better recent example of bad governance has been displayed than by Hockey Canada. The news has been filled for months with how HC paid out millions in damages to an alleged sexual assualt victim, a young woman. I say alleged, not because I don’t believe the woman, but because charges were never laid by police, as far as I know and therefore not proven in court. All that said, I am fairly certain the alleged assault took place.

Where the bad governance came in goes way back into the history of Hockey Canada. HC has an inflated view of its own importanc,e as so clearly summarized by the now former chair of the HC board. She suggested if HC dissolved, the lights might not stay on in rinks across Canada. That’s a silly thing to say as it’s not HC that keeps the lights on in the rinks across Canada. It’s the parents, the local business sponsors, the staff and thousands of volunteers who keep the lights on so people of all ages can play rink sports across Canada. The chair’s comments were an insult to every volunteer and hockey raffle ticket seller in the country. They forget miltary lesson number one, it’s the soldiers who do the work, not the generals.

And speaking of generals and other admin type staff, HC reportedly has over 400 employees, a mind boggling bureaucracy to run a relatively simple business model. It’s not rocket  science to run hockey teams, figure skating clubs and arenas. It’s hard work but not a complicated science.

HC has a huge budget, with millions of dollars coming from the federal and provicial governments, player fees and business partnerships at all levels from local to national.

Hockey Canada’s first mistake was not paying out money to cover the sins of errant hockey players, it was to get itself into such a high level of self importance.

The other problem is why would Hockey Canada pay damages when they didn’t do the deed? I suspect it was because they didn’t want their star players’ misdeeds (or crimes) to stain the HC image. Fair enough I guess, but would it not have been much better to have the players take resposibility for their individual actions?

When an assault takes place, the level of lust, intoxication, desire, fame  or opportunity is not a defense. Accountabilty has to be the foundation.

Hockey Canada got caught up in its own sense of self-imporatnce, its own sense of self preservation, and a misguided and misplaced responsiblity. Enforced player discipline and reparations should have been the path, not deceipt and cover up.

On the HC website it clearly states that the Hockey Canada Board of Directors are “custodians of the game”. That phrase was pointed out to me by my eldest son who said he first learned the value and role of the custodian at the Arden School. The custodians kept the school in good shape from cleaning to heating to yard maintenance. When a repair task exceeded their scope, they called in tradesman to fix it. If something went wrong, it wasn’t covered up. I am sure over the years, many an errant student was reported to the principal by the custodian. Hockey Canada would have done well to be a “custodian of the game” by following the definition.

Ignoring repairs, damage or misdeeds was not part of the school custodians methods. It should not have been part of Hockey Canada’s methods either. But it has been and it has backfired on them big time. Hockey Canada needs to weed out every staff or board member who has been part of the sexual abuse cover-up. Every board member should resign and if they feel they can in all clean conscience serve, they could let their name stand for re-election.

They should also spend a lot less money on extravagent perks and a lot more time on running hockey and no time whatsoever on papering over illegal activities

The survival of Hockey Canada remains to be seen. Trust me, Canadian hockey will survive with or without Hockey Canada. If it is without Hockey Canada, so be it.

Editor’s note: As of Tuesday morning the Hockey Canada Board all resigned.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.