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Hayley Wickenheiser calls Hockey Canada 'disgraceful,' says leadership needs change


Hayley Wickenheiser, four-time Olympic gold medallist and Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager, said Hockey Canada needs a leadership change following the organization’s resistance to address its handling of alleged sexual assaults.

“When you make a mistake you should own up to it and you should make change and that’s what we need, is change,” Wickenheiser said while speaking to reporters after her induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night in Toronto.

“I spent 23 years of my life around Hockey Canada and it’s beyond disappointing and disgraceful what I’ve seen.”

Her remarks follow reports that Hockey Canada was using registration fees to help pay for a multimillion-dollar settlement to address sexual assault allegations.

Since then, a slew of Hockey Canada’s corporate backers, including Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons, have pulled their sponsorship for the organization while its leadership continues to firmly reject the idea of stepping down.

Earlier this week, Hockey Canada president and chief executive officer Scott Smith said he would not resign, but instead, would take on “this responsibility for change.”

“We need a fresh start for sure,” Wickenheiser said.

“We need leadership that is going to be open minded, transparent and insightful. I think right now, there is a lack of insight into what the rest of the country is feeling about what’s going on.”

Wickenheiser said it’s taken a while for her to process the news after spending more than two decades working alongside the organization. But nevertheless, she said she knows one thing for sure.

“Hockey in this country, regardless of what happens in the board rooms, it’s the grassroots, it’s the moms and dads, the volunteers, the Zambonis and cafeteria’s and the rink that keep hockey going,” she said.

“Regardless of what’s happening in the board rooms, the lights will always be on in rinks across this country, and hockey will go on. It’s much bigger than any person or organization.” Top Stories

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