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Canadiens team owner Geoff Molson says they let fans down by drafting Mailloux

Click to play video: 'Montreal Canadiens face mounting backlash over draft pick Logan Mailloux’s sexual offence' Montreal Canadiens face mounting backlash over draft pick Logan Mailloux’s sexual offence
The Montreal Canadiens are under intensifying criticism for drafting Logan Mailloux. The 18-year-old defenceman pleaded guilty in Sweden to sharing sexually explicit images of a woman without her consent. Sponsors, advocates against sexual abuse, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are denouncing the team's decision. – Jul 27, 2021

Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson has apologized for the “offensive” decision to draft defenceman Logan Mailloux, who was convicted of sharing non-consensual sexually explicit images of a young woman last year.

The team’s owner, president and CEO issued a statement on Wednesday saying he understands that fans expect better from the Habs, “and we let you down.”

“I apologize for the pain this selection has caused,” Molson said.

READ MORE: Sponsors for Canadiens pushing back against Logan Mailloux draft pick

Molson said the franchise has asked Mailloux to not participate in its 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,” the statement reads. “As the year progresses, we will reassess Logan’s readiness to be part of our organization.”

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While the team isn’t getting rid of Mailloux, the Canadiens say they’re trying to make amends by developing a plan to raise awareness and educate young men and women about this issue.

Molson added that there was never any intention of harming the victim when picking Mailloux 31st overall in the NHL draft.

“I’m all for apologies, [but] this was a half-baked apology,” said Dr. Walter Dekeseredy, director of the West Virginia University Research Center on Violence, who is a former Montrealer and Habs fan.

Dekeseredy says Molson’s statement and the actions outlined in it moving forward are not sufficient and not the way to deal with the issue, signaling a bigger problem within the organization.

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“If you were considering signing DeAngelo and signing [Mailloux], this talks about a culture,” Dekeseredy said.

Dekeseredy is referring to hockey player Tony DeAngelo, whose controversial past includes suspensions for abusing officials, using a slur against a teammate in junior hockey and getting involved in an altercation with a New York Rangers teammate.

This week, the Carolina Hurricanes signed DeAngelo to a one-year free agency contract.

Dekeseredy believes Mailloux needs to work on himself, before moving forward in his career.

“I don’t think he should be back in any hockey capacity until he’s proven with the utmost sincerity that he has an understanding about gender inequality and healthy relationships with women,” Dekeseredy said.

This comes after the controversial draft was scrutinized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, local Quebec politicians, advocates and many fans who all agreed that the move trivialized women’s safety, sexual violence, and that it sent a strong societal signal that “collectively, we do not take these [acts] seriously.”

“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.”

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Click to play video: 'Trudeau ‘deeply disappointed’ after Habs draft Logan Mailloux despite sexual image charge' Trudeau ‘deeply disappointed’ after Habs draft Logan Mailloux despite sexual image charge
Trudeau ‘deeply disappointed’ after Habs draft Logan Mailloux despite sexual image charge – Jul 27, 2021

Team sponsors, including restaurant chain St-Hubert BBQ, financial giant Desjardins Group, La Cage Brasserie Sportive sports bar and pharmacy chain Jean-Coutu Group, had also began speaking out and expressing their discomfort with the choice to draft the 18-year-old Ontario native.

Desjardins spokesperson Valerie Lamarre told Global News in an email that the company was satisfied by the “sincerity” of Molson’s apology.

Mailloux, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has admitted to sharing the photos with his hockey teammates 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.

The teen was playing with the SK Lejon in Sweden’s third division during the 2020-21 season when he took and shared the non-consensual explicit images of himself and an 18-year-old girl engaged in a sexual act.

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He was convicted of defamation and distribution of non-consensual offensive photography charges under Swedish law last December and was ordered to pay just over $2,000.

READ MORE: Trudeau ‘deeply disappointed’ after Habs draft Logan Mailloux despite sexual image charge

On Sunday, the Montreal Canadiens organization defended its polarizing draft that was announced late Friday, calling Mailloux a “promising” player.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters 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.

The defenceman had previously asked the NHL not to draft him in the in the 2021 NHL entry draft this year in the wake of the incident after news of the charges had surfaced. He said he had not shown “strong enough maturity or character to earn that privilege.”

On Wednesday Bergevin said he was in full support of Molson’s statement.

Mailloux currently plays with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

–with files from the Canadian Press and Amanda Connolly, Gloria Henriquez, Global News

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