'We let you down,' says Habs owner Geoff Molson on Logan Mailloux draft
Calling it a "mistake," Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson on Wednesday addressed the ongoing controversy surrounding the team's decision to draft defenceman Logan Mailloux in the NHL draft.
Molson released a statement Wednesday saying he understands the concerns of those impacted by the decision.
"I understand that you expect more from us and we let you down," Molson said in a statement. "The Montreal Canadiens are more than a hockey team. Logan's actions do not reflect the values of our organization and I apologize for the pain this selection has caused."
Mailloux, 18, was fined by a Swedish court for "offensive photography that violates privacy" and "defamation." By his own admission, during a sexual encounter with a young woman last year, he took a photo without her knowledge and "shared it with teammates without her consent to impress them." He was a minor at the time.
In a press conference, which was not open to all reporters, but only to a few pre-selected media, Molson took "full responsibility for the error in judgment" that led him to draft Logan Mailloux.
"Shame on me for not considering the victim, and shame on me for not considering the number of people who were affected by my decision," he said.
The Habs are not dropping the young player, but Molson outlined measures the team is set to take.
He said that over the course of the next few months, the team will work with local experts to develop a plan to raise awareness and educate young men and young women about this serious issue of consent.
Responding to questions from reporters Thursday afternoon, the Habs' general manager, Marc Bergevin, said the team's vice-president of community engagement, Genevieve Paquette, will be involved in the plan.
When asked about the Mailloux controversy, Bergevin said he stands by the letter Molson issued on Thursday.
"I think everything was said and now we have to look ahead and what we can do to make the situation better for everybody," he said.
Molson's letter said the organization will use its platform to "turn a decision that hurt many people into one that brings meaningful and impactful change."
"We will support and oversee Logan's commitment to becoming a better person."
Molson said the team has also asked Mailloux not to participate in training camps this fall.
"Being a player in the NHL is a privilege that is earned - not a right that is granted," he said. "As the year progresses, we will reassess Logan's readiness to be part of our organization."
Molson added that the team "failed to properly assess the impact of our decision on the victim and on anyone who have suffered in similar circumstances."
Molson offered his sympathy to the 18-year-old woman victim and her family in his statement.
"No one, especially not an 18-year-old, should have to suffer through a traumatic experience like this. We are there to support her and her family and respect their privacy," wrote Molson. "Our 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."
In Canada, "non-consensual publication of an intimate image" is, in the most serious cases, "an indictable offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment."
Mailloux was playing in Sweden on loan from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League at the time of the incident.
As a result of this case, the teen asked the NHL teams not to draft him this season, to give him time to "develop enough maturity" and "earn the trust of society."
The draft choice has drawn criticism from across the hockey world and beyond.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was "deeply disappointed" that the Habs would choose Mailloux, and many sponsors have gone public saying they are reviewing their relationships with the team.
-- With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Montreal's Joe Lofaro