Content Warning: The following article contains sexual assault notices
Former NHL player and abuse survivor Sheldon Kennedy says Hockey Canada should publicly announce the results of its investigation into allegations that eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of Canada’s 2017-18 World Junior Team, killed a woman in sexually assaulted a London, Ontario. Hotel.
Kennedy spoke in response to TSN’s coverage last week that a settlement had been reached in a lawsuit filed in April by a woman identified in court documents as “EM” against Hockey Canada, the CHL and eight players they allegedly assaulted. was submitted.
The woman claimed she was molested by players for hours at a London hotel after a Hockey Canada gala event in June 2018. The players have not been identified in court documents and the allegations have never been proven.
Hockey Canada spokeswoman Esther Madziya wrote in a statement to TSN that after becoming aware of the allegations in 2018, the organization contacted London Police and hired Toronto law firm Henein Hutchison LLP to conduct an independent investigation and make recommendations to Hockey Canada for improvement.
“My question is why does Hockey Canada feel this isn’t important to the public?” Kennedy said in an interview with TSN on Tuesday.
“These players allegedly involved, John Does 1 through 8, were at the Hockey Canada awards gala. These are the young men who are the elite of the elite. In today’s world, how come none of those eight players had the guts or the care or the clarity to stand up and say, “No. It’s not happening.” Even though some of them didn’t participate, they were spectators. Why didn’t anyone say anything? There was this fear of standing up and saying, ‘We better not do this guys.’”
Madziya declined to comment on Kennedy’s request for disclosure.
“Covering it up, burying it and saying ‘no comment’ when people ask about it is not the way to deal with it,” Kennedy said. “You’d think we’d have learned that by now.”
Kennedy, 52, now leads the Respect Group, an organization dedicated to ending abuse, harassment, bullying and discrimination. The organization partnered with the NHL in December 2021 to train players and team staff on how to prevent abuse and respond to such incidents.
Kennedy revealed in 1996 that he had been repeatedly sexually abused by coach Graham James in the 1980s while playing in the Western Hockey League.
His story prompted Hockey Canada to implement new rules requiring coaches in top junior hockey programs to undergo background checks and establishing a toll-free hotline for players to report sexual abuse.
“I remember when my story broke, the advice organizations received on how to deal with cases of sexual assault and child abuse was outrageous,” Kennedy said. “They were told, ‘Don’t say anything. It will go away.’ This is no longer acceptable. Being open and transparent is key. We need to make sure everyone involved who has been injured is safe and accountable for it.”
Henein Hutchison’s findings and recommendations should be made public, Kennedy said.
“Hockey Canada commissioned a report to find out what happened, and in my world a report is something that’s meant to enlighten so you can learn from it for the future,” he said. “The Chicago Blackhawks were transparent with their account of Kyle Beach, although they kept his name anonymous at the time. It was a bold and important step, and publishing the report was the right step. We have to learn from this stuff. I think Hockey Canada’s report on these alleged attacks should be released so that all Canadian sports organizations, not just hockey organizations, can learn from and understand why these incidents are happening.”
Hours after TSN reported the settlement of the lawsuit, the NHL said in a statement that it would conduct its own investigation into the allegations.
Two people familiar with the matter said an NHL investigation would need to follow the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement because many players on Canada’s 2017-18 World Juniors team had signed NHL contracts as early as June 2018.
Pursuant to Section 18-A of the CBA, which outlines how the NHL may investigate and penalize players for alleged off-ice misconduct, the commissioner of the NHL may expel or suspend a player for a definite or indefinite period of time and may also terminate a player’s contract with a club.
If the NHL conducts an investigation, the CBA says the league must notify the NHL Players’ Association immediately. An NHLPA spokesman declined to comment.
There is no formal language in the CBA requiring players to consent to being questioned by an NHL investigator or to present existing text messages, video, or other potential evidence.
The CBA also says the NHL cannot suspend a player without a hearing.