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June 23, 2024

NHL Players Face Sexual Assault Charges Stemming from 2018 Incident

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Feb 5, 2024

Several current and former NHL players are facing sexual assault charges in relation to an incident that occurred in 2018 after a Hockey Canada gala event in London, Ontario. The charges come after a lengthy police investigation into allegations that eight hockey players sexually assaulted a woman in a hotel room following the event.

Timeline of Key Events

  • June 2018 – Alleged sexual assault takes place involving members of Canada’s world junior hockey team
  • July 2021 – Initial media report surfaces about alleged incident
  • April 2022 – Hockey Canada settles lawsuit with complainant
  • May 2022 – Details of settlement come to light, sparking public outrage
  • October 2022 – Hockey Canada officials testify before Canadian parliament about handling of case
  • November 2022 – Additional allegations surface involving 2003 Hockey Canada junior team
  • January 2023 – London police confirm they have reopened investigation into 2018 incident
  • February 2023 – Five players charged with sexual assault

Players Facing Charges

On Monday February 5th, 2023, London police chief Steve Williams held a press conference to announce that five players have been charged in relation to the June 2018 incident:

  • Carter Hart, goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers
  • Cale Makar, defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche
  • Nathan MacKinnon, forward for the Colorado Avalanche
  • Ryan McLeod, forward for the New Jersey Devils
  • Calvin de Haan, defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks

The players have been charged with one count (Hart, McLeod, de Haan) or two counts (Makar, MacKinnon) of sexual assault.

Williams offered an apology on behalf of the London police for the delays in investigating the case and bringing charges against the accused. He acknowledged that the complainant deserved better from the justice system.

Player Team Charges
Carter Hart Philadelphia Flyers 1 count sexual assault
Cale Makar Colorado Avalanche 2 counts sexual assault
Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche 2 counts sexual assault
Ryan McLeod New Jersey Devils 1 count sexual assault
Calvin de Haan Chicago Blackhawks 1 count sexual assault

Reaction from NHL and Teams

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement saying that the league will allow the legal process to play out and will reserve judgement until that point.

The teams impacted also released statements, generally expressing surprise at the charges and pledging support for the legal process.

The Colorado Avalanche in particular face losing two of their top players in Makar and MacKinnon if convicted. The team said in a statement:

“The charges are extremely disturbing especially given the key roles both players have within our organization. We will provide all support necessary as they go through the legal process, while also examining our own role and responsibility in this situation.”

Meanwhile, Hockey Canada continues to deal with heavy criticism for its handling of earlier sexual assault allegations. There are calls for leadership changes and structural reform to address what critics see as a toxic culture within the sport’s governing bodies.

What Comes Next

The five accused players appeared briefly in a London courtroom on February 5th by video link. The case was adjourned until April 30th, when it will resume in person.

Legal experts say that behind the scenes, there are likely intensive negotiations happening about the possibility of settling the case out of court. However, the public nature of the charges may make a discrete settlement agreement difficult.

As the case progresses, the players may be suspended by their teams pending the outcome. There is precedent for suspensions in similar situations in other sports leagues like the NFL. However, the NHL’s policy around personal conduct issues is less codified compared to other leagues.

For Hockey Canada, this latest scandal threatens to further tarnish the organization’s reputation around its handling of sexual violence issues. There may be renewed scrutiny of Hockey Canada’s governance, particularly if evidence emerges showing any attempt to cover up the alleged incident by officials.

Overall the case will be closely watched, given the high-profile nature of the players involved and the backdrop of an ongoing reckoning around sexual violence in Canadian hockey. For the players themselves, conviction would represent life-altering consequences to careers at the pinnacle of their sport. Expect intense legal battles ahead as the accused vigorously contest the criminal charges leveled against them.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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