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Vancouver Canucks buy out contract of embattled forward Jake Virtanen

Last Updated Jul 25, 2021 at 10:53 am PDT

Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen at a game against the Calgary Flames. (Larry MacDougal/CP)
Summary

Jake Virtanen's time with the Vancouver Canucks might be coming to an end

The Canucks have placed Virtanen on unconditional waivers, and plan to buy out his contract

Virtanen was placed on leave by the Canucks in May, following a sexual misconduct allegation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The Vancouver Canucks confirmed Sunday that the team’s forward, Jake Virtanen, had been placed on waivers for the purposes of a contract buyout.

In May, the 24-year-old Abbotsford native was placed on leave by the team following a sexual misconduct allegation.

Around that time, the Canucks released a statement about said allegations, stating that the organization “does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously.” The team also noted it had “engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation” and that Virtanen would be on leave while more information was sought.

Later that month, a civil lawsuit was filed alleging that Virtanen had sexually assaulted a woman in West Vancouver in September 2017.

The statement of claim, filed in Kelowna, said the woman suffered physical and emotional damage, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and repeated and ongoing nightmares.

Virtanen denied the allegation in a response filed on June 1, asking for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

He claims the sexual encounter was consensual.

Vancouver Police are investigating, but Virtanen has not been charged with any crime.

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Amid the ongoing investigation, Sportsnet 650’s Bik Nizzar wonders if Virtanen has any future in the NHL.

“It’s really a question of the team. Are they okay in investing someone with his character, where it still remains to be seen what the conclusion of his investigation is, but at some point, do you want to invest in that type of player that has had these allegations levied against him?”

But Nizzar says it may be too early to say whether or not Virtanen could ever get another shot in the league.

“I would say, NHL teams and professional forces have gone the way of taking chances on players like this … I feel like he would probably get another chance.”

Virtanen has spent all six years of his NHL career with the Canucks organization, joining the franchise as the sixth-overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.