Habs owner apologizes after days of criticism for drafting player who violated woman's consent
Geoff Molson says Logan Mailloux will not participate in the rookie or main training camp this fall
Montreal Canadiens owner, president and CEO Geoff Molson released a statement on Wednesday, responding to criticism following the drafting of Logan Mailloux.
"I understand that you expect more from us and we let you down. The Montreal Canadiens are more than a hockey team," Molson wrote in an open letter, released on the team's website. "Logan's actions do not reflect the values of our organization and I apologize for the pain this selection has caused."
While playing in Sweden last season, Mailloux secretly took photos of a consensual sexual encounter, then showed them to his teammates and revealed the woman's identity to them. She went to police and he was charged with invasion of privacy and defamation. As he was a minor at the time, Mailloux was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to around $1,700.
Molson said in the open letter that Mailloux will not participate in the rookie or main training camp this fall.
Canadiens owner apologizes to fans, promises action
"Being a player in the NHL is a privilege that is earned — not a right that is granted. As the year progresses, we will reassess Logan's readiness to be part of our organization."
He also apologized to fans who were upset by the team's choice to overlook Mailloux's transgression.
"We gave Logan a second chance but in doing so, we failed to properly assess the impact of our decision on the victim and on anyone who have suffered in similar circumstances," he said.
"Once again, I want to apologize to everyone impacted by our decision."
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Molson also promised action, saying that the team would develop a "comprehensive plan to raise awareness and educate young men and young women about this serious issue" in the coming months.
"We will use our platform and our resources to turn a decision that hurt many people into one that brings meaningful and impactful change."
After news surfaced about the charges in Sweden, Mailloux posted a statement on Twitter asking NHL teams not to draft him, saying he hadn't demonstrated enough "maturity" to earn the privilege of being drafted.
His statement said not being drafted in 2021 would allow him to "demonstrate an adequate level of maturity and character next season with the London Knights" and give NHL teams a chance to reassess his character ahead of the 2022 draft.
The Habs took Mailloux with the No. 31 pick just days after his statement was posted to Twitter.
Selection 'never intended to be disrespectful,' Molson says
In his open letter, Molson said he didn't want to "minimize" the experience of the victim in the case.
"No one, especially not an 18-year-old, should have to suffer through a traumatic experience like this, " he wrote. "We are there to support her and her family and respect their privacy."
WATCH | Habs owner apologizes for drafting player who violated woman's consent:
Molson said that the team's "selection of Logan was never intended to be disrespectful towards her or her family, or more generally towards women or other victims of similar situations.
"Our decision was not intended, in any shape or form, to be an endorsement of the culture of violence against women," he wrote.
Molson went on to defend Mailloux, saying that he "is genuinely remorseful about the pain he has caused" and "is committed to becoming a better person."
'I know I caused a lot of harm'
On Saturday, Mailloux answered questions from reporters in an online news conference, during which he said he is in counselling.
"I know I caused a lot of harm to this person and their family, and I regret doing this stupid and egotistical act," he said.
At a news conference Wednesday, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he read Molson's statement, and that he thinks "everything was said" about the matter.
"Now, we have to look ahead and what we can do to make this situation better for everybody," Bergevin said.
WATCH | Critics says Habs owner's apolology not enough:
Letter an example of crisis response
The decision by the Canadiens to select 18-year-old Mailloux with their first-round pick has drawn condemnation from a wide range of sources.
Several advocacy groups also expressed concern about the message the hockey club sent by drafting Mailloux. There have been a number of media columns criticizing the decision as well.
Robert Soroka, a marketing professor at Concordia University, says the open letter by Molson is "a textbook example of how to react to a crisis situation. Clearly, the original concern was the erosion of the Canadiens brand."
Soroka also says Molson's announcement that the organization will reassess Mailloux during the year gives the organization an opportunity to "walk back" the decision to draft him.
"The Canadiens are basically saying, 'Look, if in fact this player is not reformed to our satisfaction, he may not become a member of the Canadiens NHL organization in the future.'
With files from Jonathan Montpetit and Lauren Mccallum