Current Status of the Sexual Assault Case Involving 2018 Canada World Junior Players

Current Status of the Sexual Assault Case Involving 2018 Canada World Junior Players

Hockey is preparing for the next chapter in a scandal that has deeply affected the sport, prompting multiple investigations into the conduct of several notable NHL players from Canada’s gold-medal-winning 2018 world junior team.

Current Status of the Sexual Assault Case Involving 2018 Canada World Junior Players
Current Status of the Sexual Assault Case Involving 2018 Canada World Junior Players

London, Ontario police have scheduled a news conference for Feb. 5, 2024, where they will provide details regarding their sexual assault investigation involving members of Canada’s world junior team. In recent days, five players from the 2018 team have taken indefinite leaves of absence from their current NHL or European clubs, reportedly in response to an expectation to surrender to the police to face sexual assault charges.

Key Developments:

1. Background:

  • A woman filed a lawsuit against Hockey Canada in 2022, alleging she was sexually assaulted by eight members of Canada’s world junior team at a fundraising gala in London in 2018. The lawsuit was settled by Hockey Canada.
  • Subsequent investigations revealed that Hockey Canada had two secret slush funds to pay out settlements on claims of sexual assault and abuse.
  • London police initiated an internal review in July 2022, and the NHL announced its independent investigation into the matter due to active players’ involvement.
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman committed to releasing the findings once completed.

2. Recent Reports:

  • The Globe & Mail reported that five members of the 2018 world junior team were asked to surrender to London police, prompting recent leaves of absence by these players.
  • Players who stepped away: Michael McLeod and Cal Foote (New Jersey Devils), Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers), Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames), and former NHL player Alex Formenton (currently playing in Europe).

3. Player Statements:

  • Players cited personal reasons and mental health for their leaves of absence.
  • Flyers’ GM Daniel Briere read a statement, emphasizing that the team would respond appropriately when investigation outcomes are made public, deferring further comments per NHL guidelines.

4. Police Response:

  • London police spokesperson Sgt. Sandasha Bough did not confirm the report but stated they would provide updates when available.

5. NHL and Hockey Canada Response:

  • Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly mentioned the NHL would issue a statement at the appropriate time.
  • Hockey Canada has already faced consequences, losing sponsors, including Nike, and experiencing leadership changes.

What’s Next:

  • The news conference on Feb. 5 will likely provide crucial details from the ongoing police investigation.
  • The NHL’s release of its investigative findings is pending; however, Deputy Commissioner Daly has emphasized the league’s reliance on London police’s investigation.

Potential Fallout:

  • If charges are filed and convictions occur, players may face jail-time sentences under Canadian law.
  • The NHL, with its broad authority, could potentially issue suspensions for off-ice misconduct, as seen in the case of Slava Voynov in 2019.
  • Hockey Canada has already suffered sponsorship losses and leadership changes, and further consequences could be anticipated.

The situation remains fluid, with ongoing investigations expected to shape the future course of action for the involved parties.

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