By consulting Hugh L. Fraser’s resume, we understand why he was asked to run for the position of Chair of the Interim Board of Hockey Canada.
He ran the 200m and 400m relay at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, then was a lawyer, a judge at the Ontario Court of Justice for 30 years and a member of several committees including the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport.
And for the social diary, the 70-year-old man of Jamaican descent is married to a woman from the Magdalen Islands.
In addition, his son Mark played 219 National League games with the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.
His hiring would therefore come after the Canada youth soccer player sex scandal that led to the resignations of Scott Smith as the organization’s chief executive officer, Michael Brind’Amour, who filled the position of chief executive, and Andrea Skinner, who succeeded her.
Fraser was semi-retired when he was approached by Judge Thomas Cromwell, who had been assigned to lead Hockey Canada on government matters.
He could have continued on his merry way, but he decided to come to the aid of Canada’s largest sports federation.
“I like a challenge and this is a really big one,” he said. This is an opportunity for me to make a meaningful contribution to an important cause. »
Fraser, who was inaugurated a month ago, is tackling Hockey Canada’s heavy record the same way he did when he was a lawyer or regulator.
“To people who told me that it was impossible to do this or that, I replied that we could get there by trying certain things. I’m in a similar position at Hockey Canada. »
Unbelievable and unimaginable
Fraser had the same reaction as everyone else when TSN investigative reporter Rick Westhead broke the news that Hockey Canada had reached an out-of-court settlement with a young woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by eight Canadian team hockey players in 2018.
“I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’
“I was more disappointed than anything. How could this happen? »
Shortly after, another bombshell exploded when it was revealed that Hockey Canada had a fund specifically used to pay sexual assault victims to buy their silence.
For someone like Fraser, who dictates that the sport should be endowed with codes of ethics, this was incomprehensible.
“I thought at first that there were smart people in this organization,” says the man who walked through Montreal yesterday to meet the media.
“I still wonder how it got to this point and how it took until 2022. I may never have the answer to these questions.
“All I know is that a new board has been put in place because of this situation and if it hadn’t been for this issue I wouldn’t be here today.
“When I say that we may never have the answers to what happened, it is also partly because of the mandate of our board. We know that we have to move forward and that we have little time ahead of us. »
Choose the right person
The Transitional Board was formed on December 16 and has one year to implement new governance rules at Hockey Canada.
Appointing a new CEO is part of his mandate.
The search for candidates has been entrusted to a specialist firm and it is up to the board, chaired by Fraser, to meet with the people recommended by the head searchers.
“I want the new CEO to be known in five or six months, maybe sooner. But most importantly, the process has to run its course and the selection method has to be done right,” concludes Fraser.
And the suspects?
Many legal experts say it will be difficult to press charges against Canada junior team players suspected of sexually assaulting a young woman who has agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
After a second inquiry, London police last month said they had sufficient reasonable suspicion to charge five players in the case.
Could Hockey Canada, in turn, impose sanctions on these players?
An independent three-person committee is investigating the case.
“That’s the method to follow in cases like this,” says Hugh Fraser.
“This committee will give us a report and recommendations. If we are notified that certain players allegedly involved in this story require disciplinary action, we will take action. »
The National Hockey League has also launched an investigation of its own as some of the suspects developed or would have developed within their circle.
Fraser says he hasn’t had any conversations with Gary Bettman.
Congratulations to the CH players!
As much as the Canadiens players seemed drained and demotivated not so long ago, they have been playing with emotion and aggression for the past week.
Tuesday’s victory over the Winnipeg Jets was impressive.
And what about the performances by Samuel Montembeault?
The young man from Bécancour does the work for which he is paid.
He stops the puck!
For the time being, the question is not whether he has what it takes to be number one or whether he will always remain number two, as you can read all over the social networks.
What Montembeault deserves is respect.