Canadiens’ Actions Must Be Much Louder Than Their Words in Handling Mailloux

During the 2021 NHL entry draft, the Montreal Canadiens drafted controversial prospect Logan Mailloux, as the 31st overall pick. Due to grievous off-ice issues, Mailloux asked not to be drafted to mature and become a better person this year. According to the NHL, any player eligible for the draft can be drafted whether he wants to or not; the Canadiens knew this and drafted Mailloux and his off-ice troubles anyway. Now, the Canadiens must take prudent steps as they advance and turn this negative into a positive.

The Mailloux Situation

Mailloux was a stand-out defenceman with the Toronto Marlboros U16 AAA team. He was taken in the second round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft by the London Knights in 2019. He only played four games for the Knights in 2019-20, but in 48 games with the London Nationals of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), he had 68 points. With COVID-19 shutting down the OHL for most of the 2020-21 season, Mailloux went overseas to play in Sweden for SK Lejon of the HockeyEttan League, scoring 15 points in 19 games. This is also where things changed drastically for him.

Logan Mailloux Toronto Marlboros
Logan Mailloux, Toronto Marlboros(Dan Hickling OHL images)

On November 7 of 2020, while in Skelleftea, Sweden, Mailloux had consensual sex with a woman. He decided it would be okay to take an illicit picture of his partner – without her permission or knowledge. Not only did he take the picture, but he showed it to his teammates while on the team bus and shared the young woman’s social media information. Mailloux did not deny any wrongdoing and cooperated with the Swedish authorities; he also apologized to the victim, but she did not believe he was sincere.

Canadiens Issue Several Statements

The Canadiens released a statement after their draft pick stating that Mailloux made a mistake. They were aware of the situation, understood the impact, and have made a commitment to help him mature and grow as a person on top of raising awareness among their players about the repercussions of their actions. There was never any mention of a plan moving forward for the victim in this situation. Social media blew up with many sickened by the Canadiens’ choice and others praising the organization for giving the young man a second chance. (from ‘Habs right not to throw Logan Mailloux to the wolves,’ The Province, Aug 2, 2021.

A few days later, during the free-agent frenzy on July 28th, Canadiens’ owner Geoff Molson issued a public letter and met with select media members to talk about the Mailloux situation. In his statement, he said the organization let the fans down, and Mailloux’s actions did not reflect the organization. This was also the first time the team mentioned the victim and did not minimize what she has gone through. In this letter, Molson also mentioned a three-step plan that they believe would improve the situation in the future:

“At this stage, it is only our actions that will speak louder than our words.

1. Over the course of the next few months, we will develop a comprehensive plan to raise awareness and educate young men and young women about this serious issue in conjunction with local experts. We will use our platform and resources to turn a decision that hurts many people into one that brings meaningful and impactful change.

2. We will support and oversee Logan’s commitment to becoming a better person.

3. We have asked Logan not to participate in our rookie or main training camp this fall. Being a player in the NHL is a privilege earned – not a right that is granted. As the year progresses, we will reassess Logan’s readiness to be part of our organization.”

Actions Must Speak Louder Than Words

Molson already said, “our actions […] will speak louder than our words” in his letter. His three-step plan is the start of those actions, and they all seem reasonable, but they must be followed and not rushed. If the Canadiens want to win the fans’ faith and media back, they must stick to their plan, ensure it works correctly, and not hurry Mailloux’s personal development. The most important thing the team can do now is to turn this into a positive situation and not just a PR stunt.

To work for the better, they will need to approach it similarly to the Andrew Shaw situation. Shaw, while playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, was heard saying a homophobic slur on the ice. He was suspended for one game and required to attend sensitivity training; he was remorseful for his actions and apologized to the gay and lesbian community. That, however, wasn’t all Shaw did to redeem himself. In 2017, the NHL partnered with the You Can Play Project, which works with LBGTQ athletes. Each team was asked to assign an ambassador to be a leader in the dressing room to help promote diversity, equality, and inclusion. (from ‘Why Andrew Shaw is a good choice to be an LGBTQ ambassador for NHL,’ Chicago Tribune, Feb 6, 2017) Shaw volunteered to be this ambassador for the Canadiens.

“I knew people were going to think I was just doing it to save face,” Shaw said Monday. “I knew that was going to happen, but I did it anyway. … I think I’d be the best for that job because of what I went through last year, what I learned. I think I can use that and help others. Just try to be there for someone if they need someone to talk to. I’m a pretty good listener.”

Andrew Shaw on becoming You Can Play ambassador for the Canadiens

Canadiens Must Help Educate Young Hockey Players

The Canadiens and Mailloux must now show commitment to their words by educating young hockey players and community members on the consequences of his actions. He should speak to young hockey teams or prospects about what he did and how his actions affected the victim, educate them in knowing that what you do doesn’t just affect your life, but the lives of all involved.

The Canadiens as an organization need to be the front runners for the NHL to help change hockey’s stigma regarding women. They should have Mailloux work with women’s groups and show that he is actually changing for the better and wholly understands the real fallout of his actions and their effect on women. By doing this, he and the Canadiens will prove to everyone that they are doing the right things regarding this ugly situation.

It will be a big win if the Canadiens can have the Mailloux situation turn out like the Shaw one. To do that, however, all parties involved must be fully committed to wanting to change and ensuring future players don’t make the same awful decisions. Mailloux did make the first step by renouncing his position in the draft, and the Canadiens should have respected that, even if his on-ice positives meant he likely would have been drafted by another team despite it all.

With Molson’s letter and Mailloux not hiding from what he did, the organization is starting to take the right steps. The most important thing Molson did was mention the victim, and the Canadiens must ensure she is given all the help she needs and make her just as important in this process as Mailloux. If the Canadiens truly believe that actions speak louder than words, then only what happens from now on will count, and everything the team does regarding this year’s draft pick will be watched very closely.

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