Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press
JOLIETTE, Que. — Joël Bouchard and Dominique Ducharme were two key players on the National Junior Team that took part in the World Hockey Championship. If they deplore the alleged gang rape which would have been committed in 2018 and which has been splattering Hockey Canada for a few weeks, the two men claim not to have heard of anything.
“I was made aware in the following weeks,” said Ducharme, head coach of the 2018 gold medalist squad, Wednesday, on the sidelines of his foundation’s annual golf tournament, at the Club de golf de Joliette. I was called by the investigators hired by Hockey Canada. I was asked if I knew anything, if I had heard anything, or seen anything. There was nothing on my side that could lead me to believe that these things had happened. I was there at the gala, but I had no info. It is rare that we go out with the players.
“I was contacted, but the discussion lasted about 20 seconds, because I was not really there, in the sense that it was a gala where there were a lot of people, for his part explained Bouchard, director general of this champion edition. It’s hard for me to comment for one reason: I don’t have information. It’s not something I like to hear, but I don’t like to comment on a file that I don’t know.”
As first reported by TSN, Hockey Canada has settled a lawsuit filed by a now 24-year-old woman who alleges she was repeatedly raped by eight unidentified national under-20 team players that year. These allegations have not been the subject of proceedings before the courts.
Hockey Canada officials testified before a Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on June 20. Further hearings are scheduled for July 26 and 27. The national federation has since lost several sponsors and Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge has frozen funding for the men’s program until the actions of Hockey Canada management in this matter are clarified.
The two men do not like what they have heard in this case for a few weeks, but still do not wish to comment on the way in which the senior management of Hockey Canada has managed the file.
“I don’t know how the process happened,” Bouchard said. As long as I don’t know how it happened, I’d rather not talk about it. I am not aware of anything. I saw the same things as you on television. I saw a situation which is not ‘cool’, which is not ‘fun’, but I prefer not to tell a story: I have never told one and I will not start today ‘today.’
“I’m just a hockey coach, I’m not smart enough to be a top executive like that. I will let them choose how they react,” said Ducharme.
Asked if there was a culture of silence in hockey — think of the way the Chicago Blackhawks swept under the rug the sexual abuse case of assistant coach Brad Aldrich on Kyle Beach — Bouchard was direct.
“I’m not a silence guy, but I can’t speak for others,” he said.
“Hockey is only a reflection of society,” Ducharme said. If we go to university campuses, in other sports or other spheres, (…) I think it’s like elsewhere.
“Situations where you have to learn to manage as an individual, beyond Hockey Canada, there are everywhere, added Bouchard. We must learn to talk about it at a young age to our young people; being able to educate them in a way that makes them understand the realities. But I don’t know exactly what happened, so I won’t throw a rock at anyone. But if someone asks me if I find it fun, I don’t find it fun at all. I don’t think anyone likes being in a situation like that.”
The two men remain available if the investigators need their explanations.
“I haven’t been met again for four years. They never called me back. If they want to call me, they can do it again, but I don’t have much to say on the subject,” said Ducharme.