Canadiens owner says top pick Logan Mailloux will not attend training camp

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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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.