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Murphy: Signing Virtanen Would Make Bruins More Tone-Deaf Than Habs

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Boston Bruins

This is a plea to Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney to do the right thing:

Don’t pull a Marc Bergevin by signing Jake Virtanen!

As reported here more than once this past season, the Bruins looked into Virtanen on the NHL trade market numerous times over the last year. Here’s hoping that interest is gone.

The now-former Vancouver Canucks winger and the sixth overall pick at the 2014 NHL Draft was put on unconditional waivers Sunday for the purpose of buyout. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound, 24-year-old winger hasn’t lived up to the hype in his six seasons but still has plenty of potential to finally blossom into a top 6 forward that the Boston Bruins are coveting to play alongside Taylor Hall and whomever the Bruins second line center is going forward. Underachieving isn’t the reason Sweeney and the Boston Bruins must say no to signing Virtanen though.

Virtanen was put on leave back on May 1st after Virtanen was accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a woman four years earlier. In a suit, filed in British Columbia, the woman alleged that in September 2017, Virtanen assaulted her as she repeatedly said no and pleaded with him to stop in a West Vancouver hotel room.

At the time, the Canucks said that it “does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously.” They also had “engaged external expertise” to assist in an independent investigation. The NHL said then it would not comment until the investigation was complete. It was completed, and Virtanen was subsequently bounced. 

This past weekend, the Montreal Canadiens made a mockery of the strides the NHL has made in not tolerating any kind of abuse towards women from their players and anyone associated with the league. Despite top prospect Logan Mailloux renouncing himself from the 2021 NHL Draft after he was fined in Sweden for “offensive photography” and “defamation” after he posted photos of himself and the young woman engaging in a sexual act to his team’s group chat on Snapchat. 

Still, Canadiens GM, Marc Bergevin, seemingly tone-deaf, thought renouncing himself but not sincerely apologizing to the woman was enough for Mailloux to rehabilitate his lack of respect for women and redeem himself. So he stunned the entire hockey world and slapped every woman involved in the game and female fans in the face by drafting him 31st overall.

“We understand and we’re fully aware and as an organization, it’s very unacceptable, but also it’s a young man that made a terrible mistake,” Bergevin said. “Again, he’s 17 years old and he’s willing and understands and is remorseful. He has a lot of work to do, but he already started to put it behind him and have a hockey career.”

As my friend and colleague, Arpon Basu of The Athletic Montreal said: “The Montreal Canadiens should be ashamed of themselves.”

Bergevin tried to play the hockey card to defend the pick.

“Just on the hockey side, we saw players who were picked before him — we’re only talking about the hockey side right now — he was a step ahead of them,” Bergevin said. “And from the players available — just from the hockey side — he was the best pick, from the hockey side.”

That’s what Bergevin doesn’t seem to get. The hockey side doesn’t matter when it comes to making a point to a young man that this lack of respect towards women isn’t acceptable. I’m all for second chances and God knows I wouldn’t be sitting here being paid to write this if it wasn’t for third, fourth, and fifth chances. However, I earned those chances and didn’t have them handed to me because of my writing and reporting skills. 

Now back to Virtanen. By no means am I putting what Mailloux did in the same magnitude of what Virtanen is accused of doing. This obviously is a whole other level of disrespect for women. Also, this is still an ongoing case. That being said, what will it say to all the hard-working hockey women like Cassie Campbell-Pascall or Kendall Coyne-Schofield if a team signs Virtanen right away and before this matter is resolved?

Don’t be one of those teams to follow through on that interest Bruins. Maybe in a hockey sense that interest in Virtanen is still there but do Sweeney and the Bruins really want to appear to be tone-deaf like Bergevin but on a much bigger scale?

Do the right thing and DO NOT sign Jake Virtanen!

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