Sports

Here's What You Need To Know About Montreal's NHL Draft Pick Controversy

The Habs' new player had renounced himself from the draft following criminal charges.

Montreal Canadiens Draft Controversial Logan Mailloux Despite Criminal Charges

At the 2021 NHL Draft on July 23, the Montreal Canadiens selected defenceman Logan Mailloux as the team's first pick — the 31st pick overall. But just a few days earlier, Mailloux had tried to "renounce" himself from the 2021 draft, tweeting that he didn't feel he had "demonstrated strong enough maturity" to be welcomed onto a team.

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The Habs' newest player, who's currently 18 years old, was charged for distributing a sexual photo without consent in Sweden, and the draft pick has stirred up controversy in the hockey world as well as amongst the Montreal community.

What happened?

Just before the NHL Draft, Daily Faceoff reported that Mailloux had secretly photographed an 18-year-old woman while playing for a third-tier hockey team in Skelleftea, Sweden, in November 2020. He was 17 at the time.

According to Daily Faceoff, the police report from Sweden's North Region Polisen said the picture was taken "without her consent or knowledge while engaging in oral sex."

Mailloux reportedly shared the photo in his hockey team's group chat on Snapchat during a bus ride to a game.

A witness told investigators that the photo showed "the hair of the girl […] you saw that it was a girl, and you glimpsed bra straps." Investigators' reports said that the female victim claimed Mailloux told her he sent the photo to the group chat as "a trophy" due to "pressure from the guys," according to Daily Faceoff.

"Mailloux was ultimately charged with both defamation and 'Kränkande fotografering,' or offensive photography, and ordered to pay 14,300 Swedish krona, approximately $1,650 U.S. Dollars," according to the report.

According to The Athletic, the victim said she had hoped for a sincere apology from Mailloux, but instead received a text "that was no longer than three sentences."

"I do not think that Logan has understood the seriousness of his behaviour," she is quoted as saying to The Athletic in an email.

What did the Canadiens say?

After choosing the defenceman for their draft pick on Friday, the Montreal Canadiens issued a statement justifying its choice.

"The Canadiens are aware of the situation and by no means minimize the severity of Logan's actions," the team wrote.

"We are making a commitment to accompany Logan on his journey by providing him with the tools to mature and the necessary support to guide him in his development."

In a press conference on July 24, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he knew Mailloux had been "remorseful about the incident," which he said the organization "truly" doesn't agree with.

"He's a young man who made a serious mistake," Bergevin said, claiming that Mailloux had apologized to the victim's family for his actions.

How are Canadiens fans reacting?

Habs fans on Twitter were generally dismayed by the Canadiens' pick.

A Twitter user with the name Erin Manning Writes tweeted that calling Mailloux's actions a "mistake" trivializes the effect of his actions on the victim, while others expressed that they felt ashamed to be fans after the Draft pick, calling for Bergevin's resignation.

Responding to questions from reporters, Mailloux said he was aware that his actions would follow the victim for the rest of her life. He also said that — despite announcing that he didn't want to be drafted this year — he thinks being accompanied by the Montreal Canadiens organization will help him "become a better person."

TSN commentator Gord Miller said that, had the Habs honoured Mailloux's renouncement, "the victim could have continued her healing without having to relive this."

If you require resources or assistance surrounding sexual assault in Quebec, the CAVAC helpline is available 24/7. Those who may need support can call 1-866-532-2822. Other crisis lines and 24/7 options can be found at The Lifeline Canada.