Jonathan Goldbloom knows that some topics are not discussed around the coffee machine.
At the top of the list in Quebec? Politics, languages and religion. However, everyone is happy to share their opinion about Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki or the Montreal Canadiens.
Hockey Canada’s new board chair sees sport as a way to connect. This is the reason why he raised his hand when the federation was at its lowest point due to scandals.
“I didn’t really know what we were getting into,” Goldbloom said of his appointment to the transition board in November 2022. “What united us was the understanding that hockey mattered and that the sport was in trouble. »
After a year implementing the recommendations of former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell’s report into Hockey Canada’s governance, transparency and oversight, Goldbloom now leads the board following the departure of former President Hugh Fraser last month.
“A willingness by all key players to tackle problems” is the first thing Goldbloom, who runs a communications company in Montreal, has discovered in his role.
“But it’s clear that Hockey Canada was in a difficult situation. »
This situation is the result of the revelation, in May 2022, of a secret agreement signed by the organization to put an end to a prosecution for sexual assaults against eight players, including members of Junior Team Canada, which allegedly occurred at following a gala in London in 2018.
The fallout was immediate.
Government and corporate money evaporated, and then tough headlines continued throughout the spring, summer and fall as former Hockey Canada executives tried to navigate their way through through difficulties.
London police reopened their investigation into the allegations while the NHL continued its investigation. Hockey Canada said last month that the findings of its independent report were being appealed. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Goldbloom believes Hockey Canada should have taken the lead from the start.
“Much easier for a new council since we are starting from a blank page,” he conceded. But if you look at what we were doing, we probably should have been more honest with Canadians. »
With Fraser at the helm, Hockey Canada once again gained the support of the federal government. Several sponsors followed.
“It put us on the path to rebuilding trust,” said Goldbloom, who will serve a three-year term. Despite everything, I still have work to do. I don’t want to underestimate that. »
Fraser’s work, he added, was crucial in steering things in the right direction. Under his watch, one of Goldbloom’s tasks was to lead the search committee for a new president and CEO, which led to the hiring of Katherine Henderson, director of Curling Canada.
The Cromwell report recommended the complete replacement of Hockey Canada’s initial transitional board last month, but Goldbloom said it was important to have some continuity.
He also believes the organization is going in the right direction with Henderson.
“She came from curling and had proven she could change the culture,” Goldbloom said. The right values we must embody: openness, transparency and professionalism. »
This openness includes the sharing of data on mistreatment in sport. Hockey Canada released a report last month showing the vast majority of bullying and harassment cases occur among under-15s and under-18s.
“People are more willing to come forward,” Goldbloom said. We have work to do. We must be consistent, make our voice heard. »
He added that the organization’s budget is still in deficit due to scandals and losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he believes better days are ahead.