MONTREAL — Logan Mailloux was absent.
Not only from opening day of the Montreal Canadiens' rookie camp, but also from the plan of action vice-president of community engagement and Canadiens Foundation general manager Genevieve Paquette delivered to the media Wednesday morning.
But Mailloux’s selection in the 2021 NHL Draft was the impetus for this plan, and his future became the main discussion point as Canadiens prospects ran through physicals while Paquette and director of player development Rob Ramage fielded questions from the media.
Positive changes for both him and the organization were outlined.
Mailloux, who was chosen by the Canadiens 31st overall in a draft he had renounced himself from after he was charged and penalized $1,650 in Sweden for sharing with SK Lejon teammates a photo of himself engaged in a consensual sexual act with an unidentified 18-year-old woman, was barred from participating with the 27 other prospects invited to the team’s south-shore practice facility this week. He won’t be at Canadiens main camp next week, either, as mandated by Canadiens owner Geoff Molson back on July 28. And though the 18-year-old’s name wasn’t included in the announcement Paquette delivered Wednesday — that the Canadiens were investing $1 million to help raise awareness and educate young people “on the concept of consent, respect for others and the serious consequences of sexual cyberviolence" — he was certainly at the heart of it.
Paquette first explained that, with the support of “long-standing partners and committed stakeholders” who helped authorize this plan, “members of the Canadiens hockey operations department as well as all employees will receive training on respect and consent and sexual cyberviolence in line with our policy of equity, diversity and inclusion and with the values of our organization.”
She talked about how with the help of “aid and prevention organizations, such as Sport-Aide, and the Quebec hockey community, a prevention program aimed at young hockey players as well as the interveners who support them in their practice of the sport, will be developed in the coming months to bring positive and lasting changes in hockey culture,” and added “initiatives are already underway to hire women in key positions within the hockey operations department to continue to add another perspective to the daily actions and management of our hockey teams.”
Finally, Paquette announced “financial support will be given to proven initiatives of recognized organizations that work to prevent, raise awareness and educate in schools about sexual cyberviolence, and a contribution will be made to an organization that helps victims and their loved ones.”
Then, once prompted by media, Paquette began to divulge what Mailloux has been doing and what he would be doing to earn the second chance the Canadiens afforded him back in July.
She said Mailloux was “continuing to do therapy,” continuing to be educated on respect and consent, and that he’s doing so in a “very serious and engaged way.”
Though neither Paquette nor Ramage were too detailed on what steps Mailloux would have to take before resuming his hockey career, which is currently on indefinite pause after Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch announced on Sept. 2 he was being suspended from the London Knights and would only be able to apply for reinstatement as of Jan. 1, 2022, they both expressed confidence he's on the right path.
“Normally a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens would’ve been here yesterday for development camp, for Canadiens rookie camp today, and next week for NHL camp,” said Ramage, “but for his punishment, I guess we’ll say, he’s not here.
“He’s in London, with his junior team, the Knights, for which he cannot play right now, either… Logan is practising with them, he’s finishing up his high school and he continues on his journey of education and awareness from the situation that occurred in Sweden.”
Paquette added the process can't be rushed and that, in consultation with outside professionals, it's clear certain steps must be taken before others.
“In Logan’s actions and his path to being educated, he will be doing some volunteer work," Paquette said. "I haven’t had the chance to follow up in the last week as to where we are at in regards to that, but following conversations that we had with outside counsel and sexual therapists it was not recommended that Logan go and speak to other kids or youths or groups to talk about what he did and what happened.
“He needs to complete his own journey to have the credibility to talk about this. Out of respect for his victim and all the other victims of sexual violence or cyber violence, we need to make sure that when he speaks up about what happened and why he did it, he needs to have completed his journey as a person.”
What Mailloux has been doing, and what he will continue to be doing — according to his agent, Dylan Liptrap of Quartex Management — is weekly sessions with a therapist, submitting to rigorous study and training programs overseen by Knights ownership and management, and engaging in several conversations with the Canadiens, the Knights and Liptrap regarding other initiatives to bring the player along in that journey.
Mailloux is also serving his punishment. In addition to the penalties faced in Sweden, the public scrutiny he's been subjected to, not being able to participate in camps with the Canadiens and having to serve out the suspension from the OHL, Mailloux is restricted to virtual learning and not permitted to attend school in person.
Liptrap says all of that has taken a considerable toll on Mailloux’s mental health, but he is facing the situation head-on and with full ambition to improve his character and emerge a better person.
“There’s a number of organizations from leagues all around the world who have reached out and offered spots for him,” said Liptrap, “but Logan is standing up and taking the punishment that’s been provided to him. He does want to face it. He views going somewhere else as running away from his problems and he wants to take ownership for what happened in every way. He’s made that very clear to us and has made that clear in every public forum. He wants to do this the right way and make sure he’s taking the right steps to continue to grow as a person off the ice and use this as a positive.”
As Paquette alluded to, part of that plan will see Mailloux do volunteer work.
Liptrap said a local woman's shelter is being considered, but they're still awaiting clarity from the OHL on if and when Mailloux would be permitted to engage in that work.
“The league stated none of the players can be involved in the community this year, and it’s a league-wide mandate because of COVID,” Liptrap said. “So, we’re looking for clarification on what Logan is able to do. Part of the reinstatement is going to require community work — and he’s committed to doing that anyway as part of our plan — so we’ve requested formal documentation on what else will be required.”
“There will also be a point Logan will be speaking with teams, locally, in London, but not right away,” Liptrap added before echoing Paquette. "We have to make sure Logan is in the right headspace and has a full understanding of what he’s done, and that he’s properly gone through sensitivity training and properly understands how to relay the information to a younger generation to express what he’s learned in a proper manner.”
The Canadiens are submitting to a similar process with all employees. The management team, coaching staff, veteran players and emerging prospects were all included in the initiatives announced by Paquette, and that's a step in the right direction.