Hockey Canada case won't go to trial before next season

The sexual assault case against five players from Canada's 2018 World Juniors hockey team -- four of whom started the 2023-24 season on NHL rosters -- won't go to trial before the start of next season.

The attorneys for the players appeared virtually before a judge in London, Ontario, on Tuesday, largely for scheduling purposes. TSN reported the lawyers were ordered to file pretrial motions prior to Oct. 23, and the court scheduled hearings pertaining to the motions for Nov. 25, setting aside 15 days.

The trial date has yet to be set.

Police confirmed in a news conference on Feb. 5 that sexual assault charges had been filed against Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote, Dillon Dube and Alex Formenton.

Hart, McLeod, Foote, Dube and Formenton each face one count of sexual assault. McLeod faces an additional charge of being party to an offense.

The players have denied criminal wrongdoing.

Formenton is a former NHL forward who was playing in Switzerland at the time of his arrest, while the other four were active NHL players who have taken paid leaves of absences from their teams -- Hart (Philadelphia Flyers), Dube (Calgary Flames), and McLeod and Foote (New Jersey Devils).

Pretrial motions allow attorneys to request the court rule on certain issues before trial, such as introducing certain evidence or getting court orders to obtain additional evidence.

TSN reported in May 2022 that a woman identified by only her initials in court documents settled a $3.55 million lawsuit she had filed against Hockey Canada and other defendants, including eight unnamed players.

The woman reported that the assault took place in a London hotel room in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada Foundation fundraiser.

After news of the settlement, Canada's Parliament convened committee hearings to learn more about the case and as details emerged, sponsors fled and several board members and top executives of Hockey Canada were removed. London police later reopened the investigation amid public outcry. Charges against the players followed.