Police to detail sex assault case vs. current, ex-NHL players

LONDON, Ontario -- Authorities scheduled a news conference for Monday to discuss a 2018 case that has led to sexual assault charges against four current NHL players and a former NHL player, all of whom were on Canada's world junior hockey team that year.

Five players from that team have been charged with sexual assault: Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames and former NHL player Alex Formenton, who now plays for a Swiss team.

McLeod is facing an additional charge of being a party to the offense of sexual assault. Lawyers for all five players last week confirmed their clients were charged and said all of them were not guilty. The players surrendered to London police over the past week.

The case has shadowed Canadian hockey for years.

A woman sued Hockey Canada in 2022, alleging she was sexually assaulted in a hotel room by eight members of Canada's world junior team after a fundraising gala in London in June 2018. Hockey Canada settled the lawsuit, then an investigation revealed the organization had two secret slush funds to pay out settlements on claims of sexual assault and abuse.

London police dropped their investigation in 2019 but began an internal investigation in July 2022. Around the same time, the NHL launched its own investigation, though the results of that likely will not be released until the legal case is resolved.

"At this stage, the most responsible and prudent thing for us to do is await the conclusion of the judicial proceedings, at which point we will respond as appropriate at the time," commissioner Gary Bettman said last week at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

The players are all on indefinite leave from their teams. Bettman said the league does not consider it necessary to suspend the players without pay for the rest of the season.

Bettman said the league found out about the allegations on May 26, 2022. He said the NHL interviewed every player from that team, adding the woman involved declined to take part in the investigation.