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Vancouver Canucks AM Skate: Virtanen Questions, Other Controversies



Vancouver Canucks, Jake Virtanen
Former Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen.

Should the Vancouver Canucks continue an investigation into a player who’s no longer with the hockey club? I’m referring to Jake Virtanen of course. One could argue, what’s the point? There’s an ongoing police investigation, the results of which will ultimately determine Virtanen’s future and the course of action for the National Hockey League. The opposing argument would suggest the team has a moral obligation to follow through, and any information obtained might assist in the overall investigation.

The very short version of the recap: The allegations of sexual assault, that reportedly took place in a hotel in West Vancouver in September of 2017, arose via media reports at the very end of April, 2021. The team put the 24-year-old forward on leave immediately on May 1st, stating it “does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously.” That right there should answer the first question.

The alleged victim filed a civil suit and on June 1st Virtanen’s lawyer responded, according to a Canadian Press report on June 10th, “Virtanen is asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed and for the court to award him special costs, due to the nature of the allegations”. Virtanen claims the sex was consensual. This past Sunday the Vancouver Canucks placed him on unconditional waivers and then bought out his contract.

Which leads us to question number-two: Is this going to be a classic case of “She said, he said”? If so, even though it’s obviously not the most important element of this, Virtanen won’t be playing in the NHL anytime soon. This could turn into a circus to some degree, or, more likely, Virtanen and the league will be able to do what it does so well, use its influence to keep things really quiet. A.k.a., how goes that investigation into the now-decade-old sexual assault allegation regarding the Chicago Blackhawks former video coach brought by a couple of former players?

I’ve chatted with members of that 2010-’11 staff and got what I expected … nothing. Or for dinosaurs old enough to remember the sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes”, I got Sergeant Schultz. Thankfully, there is one reporter working diligently on that particular case, and the latest link is among those below.

Meanwhile, Virtanen was a disappointment for the Vancouver Canucks on the ice, and it remains to be seen if he’s been way, way worse than that off of it. It is also important to remember in this hyper-opinionated-(social) media world: Innocent until proven guilty.

Let’s Skate …

Regarding the aforementioned Chicago situation, here’s writer Rick Westhead‘s latest effort from yesterday (Thursday).

Talk about overshadowed, has there been a better, more anonymous NHL player in the last decade than Boston’s David Krejci? Some bring up Nicklas Backstrom in DC. But for many, publicity-wise, Backstrom’s like a pop star compared to Krejci. Just check out his numbers. Even though he led that team in playoff scoring, on the hate list of 2011 Bruins for Canucks’ fans, he probably ranks just below the mascot and just ahead of the equipment manager. There’s even been fan chatter about bringing him to Vancouver over the years. Boston Hockey Now‘s Jimmy Murphy told us about the options Krejci was confronted with as a UFA for the first time. Friday, Krejci decided he’s heading home to the Czech Republic.

Full disclosure, I’m involved with the twice-a-week international hockey newsletter Hockey Wanderlüst. And also, very honestly, this is the article thus far that has easily produced the most jaw drops. It dropped just yesterday. If you’re the least bit interested in European pucks, this brief story about a startling change at the IIHF is a must read.

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