Canadian world junior players charged with sexual assault cut by NHL teams


Four of the five Canadian world junior players charged with sexual assault stemming from a June 2018 incident in London, Ont., have been cut loose by their NHL teams after not being tendered a qualifying offer before Sunday’s deadline.

Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Dillon Dubé of the Calgary Flames, and Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils are all now unrestricted free agents. They had each been on paid leave from their teams since late January, when they were ordered to surrender to London Police Service to face sexual assault charges.

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One night in London: Allegations of sexual assault and a reckoning for Hockey Canada

A trial date has yet to be set. It was up to each team to decide if they wanted to issue a qualifying offer by Sunday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline to retain the NHL rights of those players, and the Flyers, Flames and Devils all decided against it.

Had they done so, and the offers been accepted (which they almost certainly would have been), the players would have continued to be paid while remaining on leave as the legal process played out through what could end up being all of next season.

There are currently no restrictions around their ability to sign with another team right away, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to The Athletic on Sunday night. But it will likely be difficult for any of them to do so, given all of the uncertainty around their situations.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association had discussions in recent weeks about potentially freezing the status of the players until a trial was held, according to league sources familiar with those talks, but couldn’t reach an agreement on how to make that work.

It’s possible that Hart, Dubé, McLeod and Foote explore opportunities to continue their careers in Europe — as Alex Formenton, the fifth player charged alongside them, did the last two seasons in Switzerland with HC Ambrì-Piotta.

Formenton’s NHL rights will remain with the Ottawa Senators through July 1, 2027, because he received a qualifying offer that he didn’t accept following the 2021-22 NHL season and was then moved to their reserve list.

The five players are facing charges for a June 2018 incident inside a room at the Delta London Armouries Hotel following a Hockey Canada Gala at which the world junior team was celebrated for its gold-medal win.

Two counts of sexual assault were brought against McLeod, and one each for Dubé, Foote, Formenton and Hart.

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(Photo: Andy Devlin / Getty Images)



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