Canucks player Jake Virtanen on leave as team investigates sexual misconduct claims
VANCOUVER -- Canucks right winger Jake Virtanen has been placed on leave over unconfirmed sexual misconduct claims, according to the franchise.
In a three-sentence-long statement released Saturday morning, the company says it is opening an independent investigation.
“We have become aware of the concerning allegations made about Jake Virtanen,” it reads.
The claims of sexual misconduct have not been proven in court.
“Our organization does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously by us,” continues the company’s statement.
Virtanen, 24, of Langley and Abbotsford, B.C., was drafted by the Canucks in 2014 when he was a teenager.
The Vancouver Police Department’s spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin says the force’s Sex Crimes Unit is not aware of any reports of a sexual assault committed by an NHL player.
“We are not able to provide names of people accused of a crime until charges have been approved by Crown,” Visintin said in an email.
Team officials say they are awaiting information from an independent investigation.
“We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we await more information,” the team’s statement concludes.
In a news conference Saturday afternoon, Canucks head coach Travis Green was asked about Virtanen's leave but provided few details.
“We met with the team this morning …. had a morning skate and we’ll be ready to go tonight,” Green said.
Reporters asked Green when the team had been made aware of the allegations, but Green refused to say.
“I’m not going to be adding anything,” he said.
Vancouver police say that they will investigate any assault allegation that is reported to them, regardless of when it happened. Visintin also made a plea for the anonymous poster, who aired the sexual misconduct allegations on Instagram and in an interview with Glacier Media, to get in touch with police.