Hockey Canada interim chair defends decision to support CEO Scott Smith

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Hockey Canada interim chair Andrea Skinner defended the board of directors' decision to support CEO Scott Smith despite calls for widespread change at the executive level of the organization.

"From a board perspective, we really believe it's in the best interest of hockey and the organization for it to remain stable over the coming next few months until the next election and to see us through the governance review," she said during the first intermission of Canada's semifinal clash against Switzerland at the Women's World Championship, per TSN.

"We think we have the people in place that are able to execute on our action plan and the other key priorities for Hockey Canada."

Former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell will lead the independent review of Hockey Canada. Earlier this summer, the organization unveiled an action plan to address "systemic issues" and "toxic behaviors" within the sport.

Skinner will remain the interim chair until the end of the current board's term in November. She replaced Michael Brind'Amour, who stepped down in early August.

Hockey Canada has been under fire in recent months over a sexual assault lawsuit that was settled in May. In the lawsuit, a woman said eight unnamed CHL players, including members of Canada's 2017-18 world junior team, sexually assaulted her in June 2018 following an event in London, Ontario.

"I think some of (the criticism) has been unfair. ... Unfortunately, there's a perception out there that there was a coverup. I can tell you that's absolutely untrue," Skinner said Saturday while addressing the 2018 sexual assault allegations.

"When the young woman filed the statement of claim, (Hockey Canada) relied on professional advice. Based on the information we had, we settled with the young woman, and we did what we thought was in the best interests and the most sort of respectful way and sensitive way of dealing with the wishes and desires and perspectives of the young woman."

Skinner also addressed Hockey Canada's use of a National Equity Fund maintained by membership fees to settle uninsured liabilities, including sexual assault claims.

"To the parents out there that are concerned about Hockey Canada's use of a 'slush fund,' all I can say is as one hockey parent to another, I hope that we sort of can correct and move on from the misperceptions around that," she said. "I know that the ongoing governance review is going to deal with that question."

Hockey Canada announced in July that it would no longer use the National Equity Fund to settle sexual assault claims.

The organization also recently reported an alleged group sexual assault from 2003 involving members of the 2002-03 national junior team.

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Hockey Canada interim chair defends decision to support CEO Scott Smith
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