Logan Mailloux, the Montreal Canadiens prospect whose selection at the NHL Draft in 2021 became a flashpoint for how the sport handles sexual violence, discussed his participation in the club's Respect and Consent program on Tuesday, advocating for more teams to implement a similar protocol across all levels of hockey.
"Respect, consent, the whole program they have going on here is unbelievable," Mailloux said when speaking at the team's development camp. "I think every NHL team should have to do it, every junior team should have to do it, I think it should start in minor hockey as well. I think it's something that definitely needs to be done more often."
The program was born out of the backlash to the Canadiens selecting Mailloux with the 31st pick even after he had renounced himself from the draft. Prior to being chosen, Mailloux had said he didn't deserve the honour or privilege of being an NHL draft pick. The statement came as news emerged that — while playing in Sweden in late 2020 — he secretly photographed an 18-year-old woman who was engaged in a sexual act with him, and then shared the image with his teammates without her consent. Mailloux was charged under Swedish law with defamation and offensive photography and fined approximately $1,650.
The woman Mailloux victimized told The Athletic just before Mailloux renounced himself from the draft that she did not think he "understood the seriousness of his behaviour," and said that his apology amounted to "a text that was no longer than three sentences."
"All I have wanted is to get justice for the actions he has taken against me," the woman wrote in her correspondence with The Athletic. "If his actions ruin his career, it's up to him. It's not my fault."
The Canadiens' decision to select Mailloux in the first round of the NHL Draft, while knowing the transgressions he had recently committed, was chastised from many spheres of the hockey community. The rebuke was broad enough even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in, saying the Canadiens "showed a lack of judgment."
Montreal later announced Mailloux would not participate in rookie camp or the team's main training camp in the first year he was eligible.
"Like I said before the draft, that's how I felt, that I didn't deserve the right," Mailloux said on Tuesday, echoing his prior position. "It's a privilege, not a right, to be drafted and to be able to be a part of the Canadiens organization. So, I feel incredibly humbled and supported by the whole Montreal Canadiens organization and staff throughout this process — I feel like they've helped me a lot."
Rigorous details about the Canadiens' Respect and Consent program are not widely known, though Canadiens Foundation general manager Genevieve Paquette has previously said it is centred on a commitment by the organization to raise awareness — within the franchise and beyond it — “on the concept of consent, respect for others and the serious consequences of sexual cyberviolence." It also included a $1-million investment to spur progress toward those goals.
Kent Hughes, the Canadiens general manager, said in March that the team had assembled a task force to oversee Mailloux. He went on to note in May that “Logan is still in evaluation — less so as a player and much more so as a person and a member of the community — and we’re going to supervise him doing all he promised to do to be a better person and be a better teammate and member of the London community.”
For Mailloux specifically, at least part of the work with the Canadiens' program involved attending therapy, which he has credited with being beneficial in helping him understand "what’s going on in my life and how I can better myself moving forward."
"I would have changed everything that I've done, 100 per cent, I've definitely changed a lot as a person and as a human the past two years," Mailloux said Tuesday, though he stopped short of detailing what he believed the nature of those changes was. "I wasn't educated back then, I feel like I am now."
The program also sought to ingrain in him a better understanding of respect and consent. Recently, some of Mailloux's education has come from Sheldon Kennedy, the former NHL player and sexual abuse survivor who co-founded the Respect Group — an organization whose stated mission is to "Eliminate bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination (BAHD) by inspiring a global culture of respect."
Kennedy attended the Canadiens development camp on Monday, having been invited by the team to speak with its prospects.
“I just had a chance to meet Logan downstairs for the first time and we had a great conversation,” Kennedy told The Montreal Gazette. “I felt we could communicate about the issues at hand and to me that’s huge. So many times you can never talk about these issues. People don’t even know where to start. We had a healthy conversation and I hope nothing but the best for Logan and that he continues to learn and be the best he can be in his space. But for me, I’m here because I see leadership and I see an organization that wants to be the best they can be in this space.”