The Montreal Canadiens have been facing a wave of intense — and justified — criticism over the past few days for their decision to draft Logan Mailloux with their first-round pick.
Mailloux had stated before the draft that he wanted to be excluded from the draft process following a 2020 conviction in Sweden for taking and circulating a photo of a woman performing a sex act without her consent. He was fined for “Kränkande fotografering” (offensive photography constituting an invasion of privacy) and “Förtal” (defamation) while playing in Sweden while on loan from the OHL’s London Knights.
Despite all of that the Canadiens went forward with the selection, and really did not offer a good justification for why they did.
They received criticism from fans, media, sponsors, and even the prime minister of Canada.
On Wednesday, just as the NHL’s free agent signing period was underway, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson released a letter talking about the decision, the criticism the team has received, and their plan going forward.
Molson began with this:
I want to share with you my perspective on our decision to select Logan Mailloux in the 2021 NHL Draft. This decision, made in the context of the Draft, turned out to be instantaneously very offensive to many of you.
I understand that you expect more from us and we let you down. 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.
First and foremost, regarding the young woman who is the victim, I want to say that we do not minimize what she has had to, and continues to have to, live through. 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.
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.
Logan is a young man who committed a serious transgression. He is genuinely remorseful about the pain he has caused. He is committed to becoming a better person and we will work with him through this process.
At this stage, it is only our actions that will speak louder than our words.
At this stage, their actions are that they selected a player that said he did not want to be selected following a pretty serious and impactful action that hurt another person.
From there, Molson outlined a three-step process for how the Canadiens will work with Mailloux.
1. Over the course of the next few months, we will develop in conjunction with local experts, a comprehensive plan to raise awareness and educate young men and young women about this serious issue. We will use our platform and our resources to turn a decision that hurt many people into one that brings meaningful and impactful change.
2. We will support and oversee Logan’s commitment to becoming a better person.
3. We have asked Logan not to participate in our rookie or main training camp this fall. Being a player in the NHL is a privilege that is earned – not a right that is granted. As the year progresses, we will reassess Logan’s readiness to be part of our organization.
The obvious problem here is that Molson still signed off on allowing the Canadiens to make the pick, and while excluding him from rookie camp and training camp might seem like he is losing something, he was still rewarded with the privilege of being a first-round pick in the NHL draft and never really faced any significant consequences.
We will see where Mailloux and the Canadiens go from here but given what we have seen so far they are probably not giving their fans much reason to be optimistic.