Canucks place Virtanen on leave after sexual misconduct allegation
‘We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we await more information,' NHL club says
Author of the articleatrick Johnston
Publishing date:May 01, 2021 • 13 hours ago • 2 minute read
Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been placed on leave by the NHL club.
Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been placed on leave by the NHL club. PHOTO BY RICH LAM /Getty Images files
The Vancouver Canucks have placed winger Jake Virtanen on leave and are taking part in an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by the 24-year-old player.
“We have become aware of the concerning allegations made about Jake Virtanen,” the Canucks said in a statement. “Our organization does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously by us.
“We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we await more information.”
The allegation surfaced in an Instagram post earlier this week. An unidentified woman alleged a September, 2017 incident involving an unnamed Vancouver-based NHL player.
In an email, Vancouver Police Const. Tania Visentin said the department’s sex crimes unit has not received a complaint about an NHL player but said the woman may have made her report to a different police department.
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“I’ve checked with our sex crimes unit and they have not been made aware of any reports of a sexual assault committed by a NHL player. I will note that we are not able to provide names of people accused of a crime until charges have been approved by Crown,” said Visentin. “We encourage (the author of the post) to call police to report any crimes.”
Canucks head coach Travis Green, speaking to reporters Saturday, said the team’s statement would stand for itself. He said he understood why questions were being asked, but declined to say when the team became aware of the sexual misconduct allegation and whether Virtanen was still with the team.
“I trust that everyone on the call has seen the statement released by the team and I hope everyone understands I won’t be making any additional comments,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, Virtanen did not take part in the Canucks’ morning skate in Toronto before their evening game against the Maple Leafs.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged in an email that the league learned of the allegation “very recently.”
Postmedia requested to speak with Canucks general manager Jim Benning and owner Francesco Aquilini, but the team refused to make them available.
“Consistent with statement, no further comment until investigation is complete,” a spokesperson said in an email.
In her Instagram post, the woman said she met a player online sometime during the summer of 2017.
That September, she posted, they met up and she was taken to what was described to her as the team’s training camp hotel. She said she repeatedly said no as the player forcibly undressed her and forcibly had intercourse with her.
“I physically couldn’t hold him off any longer,” she said.
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