MONTREAL — General manager Marc Bergevin is defending the Montreal Canadiens‘ controversial selection in Friday’s NHL entry draft.
The Habs took Logan Mailloux with the No. 31 pick just days after the defenceman posted a statement on Twitter asking teams not to choose him in this year’s draft.
Mailloux’s statement followed news that he had been charged and paid a fine in Sweden for distributing a sexual photo without consent.
"Being drafted into the NHL is an honour and a privilege that no one takes lightly," he wrote. "The NHL Draft should be one of the most exciting landmark moments in a player’s career, and given the circumstances, I don’t feel I have demonstrated strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege in the 2021 draft."
The Canadiens issued a statement shortly after the pick was announced saying the club was "aware of the situation and by no means minimize the severity of Logan’s actions."
"Logan understands the impact of his actions. His recent public statement is a genuine acknowledgment of his poor behaviour and the first step on his personal journey," read the statement.
"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. We are also committed to raising awareness among our players about the repercussions of their actions on the lives of others."
Bergevin told reporters Friday that Mailloux was "remorseful" and had apologized to the family involved.
"We will work closely with him, give him the support that he needs. I know he’s been remorseful about the incident, which we truly don’t agree with it in all sense of the word," the GM said. "But he’s a young man who made a serious mistake of judgment. And we need to work with him and we did talk to him and he’s very aware of that and very remorseful. So that is a big step."
Bergevin said he knew there were some who would not agree with the Canadiens’ decision to add Mailloux to the prospect pool.
"We understand and we’re fully aware and as an organization, it’s very unacceptable," he said. "But also, it’s a young man who made a terrible mistake. He’s 17 years old and he’s willing and he understands and he’s remorseful and he has a lot of work to do but he already started to put it behind him and have a hockey career."
Mailloux plays for the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights but spent last season on loan to SK Lejon in Sweden’s third division.
The six-foot-three, 213-pound blueliner had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 19 games with Lejon.
His statement said not being drafted in 2021 would allow him to "demonstrate an adequate level of maturity and character next season with the London Knights" and give NHL teams a chance to reassess his character ahead of the 2022 draft.
The Knights issued a statement earlier this month saying the club was aware of a "situation" involving Mailloux in Sweden.
"It is our understanding that the situation has been resolved in Sweden and the player has apologized," it said. "Team staff are working with Logan, ensuring that he is accessing the supports that are in place to help him better understand his actions, the ramifications of his actions and ensuring that this does not happen again. The team and the (OHL) will continue to closely monitor the situation."