Players Reportedly Prepared to Retaliate if Punished by NHL for 2018 World Juniors Incident

Published July 13, 2023 at 11:27

It seems a potential battle is brewing between the NHL and some players who played on Canada's gold medal-winning World Junior team in 2018. TSN's Rick Westhead is quoting an unnamed agent of one of the players as saying they are prepared to push back if the NHL punishes them over allegations of sexual assault.

In 2022, Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit with a women who claimed she was sexually assaulted by as many as eight players at a gala in London, Ontario in 2018, including some members of Canada's World Junior team from that year. Following a huge outcry from the public, the NHL launched it's own investigation into the incident, and is very close to releasing a decision. That decision will reportedly include suspensions, which may lead to retaliation from anyone named in the investigation.

"Several team execs, sponsors and player agents tell me they are bracing for the NHL's possible release of an investigation report, re: an alleged sexual assault involving as many as eight players on Canada's 2018 world juniors team," said Westhead.

"If NHL names and suspends players allegedly involved, affected players would likely appeal any sanctions to an arbitrator, as per CBA (collective bargaining agreement), and may pursue defamation lawsuits vs league, said agent of one player who attended 2018 Hockey Canada gala."

This could end up being a very messy situation for the league. It is important to note that, while Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit involving the allegation, no one has been charged in the incident. That could change, according to Westhead.

"While an investigating officer in October wrote in court documents he believes there are grounds to charge at least five players, police in London continue to decline comment other than to say an investigation is ongoing."

Several members of Canada's 2018 WJC team have already come out publicly saying they were not involved. Some have chosen to simply say they are cooperating with the investigation. Alex Formenton is the only member of the team that has chosen to release no statement at all. He left the Ottawa Senators to play for Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss National League last season. None of the allegations has been tested in court and everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
July 13   |   231 answers
Players Reportedly Prepared to Retaliate if Punished by NHL for 2018 World Juniors Incident

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