Former premier says Hockey N.L. needs to do more in wake of Hockey Canada allegations
Dwight Ball says provincial hockey organization can't remain silent
Former premier Dwight Ball says the provincial governing body for hockey has not done enough in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding Hockey Canada.
While Ball, a former director of senior hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador, did not go so far as to say Hockey N.L. should cut ties with the national organization, he says the provincial body needs to show more leadership.
"We've seen other provinces that have taken action," said Ball.
"Silence can be seen as supportive. I'm hoping that's not the case. But I do believe the right thing for Hockey N.L. to do is to take the lead from other provinces. Don't miss the opportunity to be involved and to be part of the change that's required."
Hockey N.L., in contrast, has declined to do interviews, issuing a statement instead that says it "continues to monitor and evaluate the developments in hockey across Canada."
Taking action isn't about piling on, said Ball, who was N.L. premier from 2015 to 2020.
"This is about doing the right thing for hockey organizations across the country."
Ball said given how Hockey Canada has handled the situation — calling their response "tone-deaf" — change will ultimately be forced upon them by Canadians.
"I think Hockey Canada as we once knew it will no longer exist in the future," said Ball. "From my perspective, I see that as a good thing."
Hockey Canada's missed opportunity
Major sponsors — including Tim Hortons, Nike and Telus — have terminated their agreements with Hockey Canada due to the ongoing investigations. The scandal has sparked a national response, with many, including Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge, urging the current leadership to resign.
Ball sees things the same way.
"Hockey Canada had an opportunity here to actually facilitate some changes," said Ball. "They missed that opportunity, and now that change will be forced upon them. They've tried to defend what I believe is indefensible. I don't think that's a very good path to recovery."
Ball says the organization's lack of response, or lack thereof, illustrates an elitist, out-of-touch view, and positive changes need to start at the top.
"A leadership change is a good first [step]," said Ball. "But there needs to be an organizational review. Whatever the future organization will be, we really need to start reconnecting with the provinces. Let Canadians be proud of hockey once again."
with files from Peter Cowan and Here & Now