When people clean house you can find all kinds of things. USA Hockey is definitely cleaning house this spring and the bodies are starting to pile up.
For those not in the know, USA Hockey is a Defendant is a lawsuit based upon sexual abuse and possible cover ups by USA Hockey President Jim Smith while he was President of AHAI, which is the Illinois affiliate of USA Hockey. Smith is not the only defendants in the suit and Smith claims he was cleared after two lengthy investigations.
Well people who are cleared of any wrong doing should never resign, and resign is effectively what Smith did via email when stating he would not run for re-election because “I believe we must be totally united as we move forward and a divided election would not benefit USA Hockey,”
USA Hockey publicly said “The notice closing the matter contained no negative findings or conclusions related to Jim Smith or any of the AHAI representatives alleged to have knowledge and that no action would be taken.”
That USA Hockey and Jim Smiths interpretation of the outcome of investigations is just a little misleading when SafeSport, tth body conducting the investigation is saying “It’s misleading to suggest that an administrative closure means that the center conducted an investigation and found no wrongdoing. It’s an action, without findings, that allows the center to revisit a matter should additional information be made available.”
These allegations of cover ups and abuse are not new. Everyone in the hockey business that has worked in Chicago has heard rumors for years. Everyone heard certain peoples names and expressed opinions and what was going on.
If Smith’s decision was not enough, several high profile USA Hockey staff members were let go.
U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Vairo, the director of special projects, Kenny Rausch, director of youth hockey and the American development model manager, and Kevin McLaughlin, the assistant executive director of hockey development.
USA Hockey has told people these moves are for “budgetary reasons”.
Perhaps most telling of the disarray in USA Hockey? Ron DeGregorio is vacating his position as Chairman of the USA Hockey Board.
“It’s true that I declined being placed on the ballot for chairman even though I am the only person that meets the criteria to serve as chairman,” DeGregorio wrote in an email to The Athletic on Tuesday. “I made that decision several months ago. I’ll be 75 in September and am dialing back my involvement, including finishing my term on IIHF Council in September and also my role on the board of directors for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto at the end of this year.”
Coincidence is bumping into a friend you haven’t seen in years while on your way to a game at the World Championships and being seated next to them on the plane.
All these “departures” do not smack of coincidence to any rational thinking human being.
What’s next for USA Hockey? Who will guide this organization through what are clearly troubling times? Those questions will likely be answered in just a few weeks during the USA Hockey annual meeting beginning June 9th.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser