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Canucks Daily: Virtanen ‘Innocent’, Immediately Ready to Play Hockey

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Vancouver Canucks, Jake Virtanen
Jake Virtanen playing NHL hockey with the Vancouver Canucks.

Former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen released this statement late in the day Tuesday after being acquitted in his sexual assault trial. We tagged it on a previous ‘updated’ story in the evening, but it’s worth sharing again since it answers the question as to if and when the right wing will try to continue his NHL career.

“I am incredibly relieved that the jury has found me not guilty, after considering all of the evidence in my trial. I am glad the truth has come to light. I am looking forward to resuming my career as an NHL player. For my whole life I have dreamed about playing the sport I love, in the best league in the world. I want to thank my family, my friends, and my supporters, the people who stood behind me through these most difficult times.”

No question about the ‘if’, that’s for sure, he wasted little time in bringing up resuming his hockey efforts. ‘When’ is a bit hazy. He has plenty of time to prepare for this next season, but he hasn’t played in an NHL game since April 29th, 2021 at the Toronto Maple Leafs. That came at the end of the all-Canadian North Division Covid-bubble season. Obvious distractions held him to a five-goal, zero-assist effort in 38 games. He actually had 18 goals and 18 assists in 68 games in 2019-’20.

‘Where’ actually becomes the biggest question. As in, who might want him. From a legal standpoint, there should be nothing holding anyone back. Virtanen was proven innocent for all intents and purposes. At this point, given the history, I wouldn’t expect the Vancouver Canucks to ever consider bringing him around, although they’d send a strong message about due process if they did.

Naturally, he’d have to present on-ice value, and he hadn’t exactly lived up to expectations the first time around. He was the Vancouver Canucks 1st-round pick, 6th-overall draft choice in 2014.

The 25-year-old Langley native needs a new scene. If he’s not able to pick up some form of contract as a free agent, you might see Virtanen in a Professional Try-out (PTO) situation. I reckon his North Vancouver-based player agent Kevin Epp is working on it as we speak.

Virtanen has 55 goals and 100 points in 317 NHL games, all with the Vancouver Canucks.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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Just a Guy with Common Sense

Have you considered unwriting this?

Stu

Not Guilty is not the same as Innocent. He was found not guilty as there was not sufficient evidence to press charges. As a writer this should be common knowledge. Can anyone write articles like this?

MoxNix

The law says you are innocent until proven guilty.

MoxNix

Virtanen would be a good fit for the bottom 6 in Calgary. Too bad Bonehead Brad is way too politically correct to consider signing him.

Joe

It is sad that Virtanen was run out of the Canucks based upon an accusation. Companies and organizations need to be held accountable for taking action against someone until they are found guilty. It is innocent until PROVEN guilty, not guilty because someone accuses you of something. Anyone can accuse anyone of anything. This needs to change. I wish Virtanen sued the Canucks organization for wrongful dismissal.

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