The backlash against the Montreal Canadiens for their controversial first round draft choice of Logan Mailloux keeps growing.
Some of the team’s biggest sponsors are now speaking out, expressing their discomfort with the move to draft the 18-year-old Ontario native who was convicted of defamation and the distribution of non-consensual offensive photography last year after taking and sharing a photo of himself and an 18-year-old girl engaged in a sexual act.
Financial giant Desjardins Group told Global News it had contacted the franchise, asking for clarity from the team on why it chose to make such a polarizing decision that it did not support, especially after Mailloux released a statement asking not to be drafted in the 2021 NHL entry draft this year.
Iconic chicken chain St-Hubert BBQ, another of the team’s major sponsors, said it was re-evaluating its advertisement with the Habs in light of the incident.
Other team advertisers such as La Cage Brasserie Sportive sports bar and pharmacy chain Jean-Coutu Group are also among the companies who have said they have expressed their concerns with the Canadiens’ executives.
This comes after Justin Trudeau was the latest to join the politicians and advocates who denounced the Habs’ choice to draft the defenceman, saying it trivializes sexual violence and women’s safety.
“As a lifelong Habs fan, I must say I am deeply disappointed by the decision,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday. “I think it was a lack of judgment by the organization. I think they have a lot of explaining to do to Montrealers and to fans right across the country.”
Mailloux has admitted to sharing the photo and said he “deeply regrets” doing something so “stupid and irresponsible” and has been in therapy to better himself and understand the impact that his gesture had and will have on his victim for the rest of her life.
According to experts, victims of sexual cyber violence or revenge porn often experience trauma, shame, humiliation, stigmatization, depression, anxiety and difficulty getting a job for the rest of their lives.
“It’s ironic that perpetrators generally walk away scot-free and it’s the survivors who suffer dearly,” said Dr. Walter Dekeseredy, director of the West Virginia University Research Center on Violence.
The teen was playing with the SK Lejon in Sweden during the 2020-21 season when he took and shared the non-consensual image.
He was convicted and fined under Swedish law last December and ordered to pay just over $2,000.
Mailloux, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has since admitted to sharing the photo with his hockey teammates to impress them.
In Canada, the non-consensual publication of an intimate image is, in serious cases, an indictable offence punishable by imprisonment of up to five years.
Global News has reached out to the Montreal Canadiens for comment but the team did not comment at the time of publishing.
The Habs previously released a statement Sunday night defending its choice, calling Mailloux a “promising” player.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters Saturday that the gap between Mailloux and the next best player the Habs could have picked was too large to ignore and that he believes he would have been drafted by another team if the Canadiens hadn’t picked him.
— with files from the Canadian Press and Dan Spector and Amanda Connolly, Global News