Some hockey fans say the excitement for the world’s youth comes with tough conversations

Some Nova Scotia hockey fans say their excitement for the world junior hockey championship has been accompanied by tough conversations about Hockey Canada’s handling of sexual assault allegations this year.

Halifax hockey dad Kyle Wagner said scandals within Canadian Hockey have sparked controversy in his eight-year-old son’s team’s locker room ahead of this year’s world junior tournament jointly hosted by Halifax and Moncton, NB.

“And I’m sure it will definitely continue to be a conversation for the next few years,” he said in an interview Thursday on his way home from his son’s hockey tournament in Dartmouth, NS.

The national hockey governing body has been embroiled in controversy for months after it emerged in May that it had resolved a case involving a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by several members of the 2018 world youth team. Then in July, Halifax District Police began investigating allegations that the 2003 team sexually assaulted a woman and filmed the attack during that year’s tournament.

None of the allegations were proven in court and no charges were filed.

Hockey Canada executives announced in July that they had paid $8.9 million in sexual abuse deals since 1989, excluding the 2018 deal. The organization elected a new board of directors on 17 December and is still looking for a new general manager. The previous board of directors resigned, and as a result of the controversy, chairman and CEO Scott Smith was fired.

“I think it’s a little late,” said Wagner of the recent changes in Canadian Hockey’s leadership, “but when something drastic like this happens, I think you need to clean the house and start fresh.”

Wagner stated that it is a long-standing tradition for his family to watch the matches from Boxing Day, adding that his family is excited to cheer for the Canadian team this year. But Wagner said he and his family talked about the controversies and the “terrible” things that were happening in the world of hockey.

“An eight-year-old is smart, because my son knows that there are controversies in hockey this year, and he doesn’t know many details, but he knows that some things are done wrong and terrible.” said.

WATCH l Documents reveal new details about alleged sexual assault by hockey youth:

Documents reveal new details about teen hockey sexual assault allegation

Recently filed court documents reveal why police sought warrants to further their investigation into five members of the 2018 World Junior hockey team they believe were involved in the alleged sexual assault against a woman in London, Ont. None of the police’s claims were tested in court, and no charges were filed.

It’s important that hockey families pay attention to these key issues and hold the national sports organization accountable, so that “this kind of thing doesn’t happen again” and that allegations of sexual violence are properly investigated, Wagner said.

Lifetime hockey fan Maggie Archibald, who has tickets to the upcoming two junior world games at the Scotiabank Center in Halifax, said in an interview on Thursday that even though she’s worried about scandals, they won’t stop her from supporting the Canadian team.

“I have tickets to two games so I’m really looking forward to it and still hope to see Canada do well despite the ongoing scandal,” he said.

Archibald said there was “very high expectation” that significant improvements would be made within the organization with the newly replaced Hockey Canada board of directors.

“I hope this new board will change things and help smooth things out,” he said. “I think this will help change the negative view that many people have of Canadian Hockey right now.”

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said the board and CEO resignations were delayed. In an interview Thursday, he said the “dramatic” leadership change “paves the way for the mayor of Moncton and me to focus on hockey and the benefits that come to our two cities.”

Savage said the tournament is expected to bring in “tens of millions” of dollars in revenue to the city, adding that he expects hotels and restaurants to be full during a typically slow tourist season.

“I’m excited to be at some games. I’m excited to see Halifax and Moncton on national television, I know both cities will shine,” he said.

“It’s been a tough time for Canadian Hockey, but I think it’s part of a new day for hockey.”

It was revealed on Thursday that the New Brunswick government had added a “good conduct” clause to its funding agreement with Hockey Canada for the tournament. The convention stipulates that all representatives of Hockey Canada “must be of good character and not engage in unethical behavior” during the event.

New Brunswick has committed $1.25 million to the event, but the state’s Regional Development Corporation’s contract says the government can “request reimbursement of any unused portion of the fund” should unethical or illegal behavior occur.

WATCH l New Brunswick sets the terms for player behavior during the World Juniors:

New Brunswick sets requirements for players’ behavior during World Juniors

Under its contract with the province’s hockey organization, World Juniors host New Brunswick is putting direct financial pressure on Canadian Hockey to discourage its players from engaging in illegal or unethical behavior during the tournament.

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