The biggest challenge for Hockey Canada may well be regaining the trust of sponsors, says a marketing expert.

The national federation had its funding restored by Canadian Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge on Sunday after Hockey Canada met the conditions imposed by the minister.

The federal government froze funding for Hockey Canada in May after it was revealed that a woman was allegedly raped by eight players after a gala in June 2018, including members of the national team who participated in the World Cup. junior the same year. A few days later, several sponsors had withdrawn their marbles.

Along with another investigation into sexual assault allegations involving members of the 2003 junior team, the organization reported losses of $23.5 million in lost or suspended sponsorships last year.

Metropolitan University of Toronto marketing management professor Joanne McNeish told The Canadian Press that Hockey Canada is “in a weak negotiating position.”

Scotiabank, Canadian Tire, Nike and Tim Hortons have yet to comment on whether they will follow Ottawa’s lead and resume their partnership with the federation.

Some companies might revive partnerships, but others might not think it’s worth the risk, McNeish said.

“[Some] will pass. Others will take a broader perspective and say “yes, it’s an important partnership for us and hockey is an important sport in Canada, we want to support the community”, but in a more targeted way, she said. mention. In a very specific way and in a way where from a public point of view, the link is going to be less visible. »

It could be difficult to rebuild a bond of trust.

“Transparency is going to be paramount, but the hardest thing to regain is trust,” McNeish said. Once the bond of trust is broken, it is no longer the same thing.

“It means that the dollars invested come with strings attached to transparency. Commercial enterprises are going to be much more careful in the way they allocate money. And for non-profit organizations, the legal and contractual obligations represent large amounts. »