Four retired NHL players who were part of Canada’s 2003 world junior hockey lineup say they were unaware of an alleged group sex assault involving members of that year’s team.
Jordin Tootoo, Carlo Colaiacovo, P.A. Parenteau and Nathan Paetsch said in Twitter posts over the weekend that they had not heard of the incident before the allegation surfaced in a TSN report on Friday. A fifth player, Scottie Upshall, said he fully supports an investigation by authorities, but he did not say whether he knew of the incident.
Mr. Colaiacovo, a former Toronto Maple Leaf who now co-hosts a TSN hockey radio show, said in his Twitter statement that he was saddened to hear of the allegation against his world junior team.
“As a member of that team, it is important that everyone is aware that I had no involvement or knowledge of any incidents whatsoever. I will fully co-operate with any investigations,” he wrote.
The assault is alleged to have taken place in Halifax, which was co-hosting the world junior hockey championship that year. Hockey Canada said Friday it contacted Halifax Regional Police after recently learning of the 2003 allegation, and added that it will co-operate with authorities as they investigate.
This is the latest in a series of revelations about the culture of hockey and its national governing body, Hockey Canada. Police in London, Ont., recently reopened an investigation into a different sexual assault, allegedly committed in 2018 by Canadian Hockey League players, including members of that year’s world junior team.
TSN reported on Friday that, according to its sources, video footage from 2003 shows about six players taking turns having sex with a woman who was unresponsive and lying face up on a pool table. TSN did not view the footage, but cited three sources who described it. The Globe and Mail has not independently verified the existence of the footage or any details related to it.
Mr. Tootoo, a former Chicago Blackhawks player, wrote a memoir called All the Way: My Life on Ice. It references the 2003 team’s sexual behaviour.
“We were horny young men. We were in Halifax and we had every ... girl hitting on us. What are you going to do? Let’s start slaying these broads,” the book says. “And it wasn’t just one-on-one action. A few of the guys would get a couple of girls after practice and head into one of the rooms. Enough said.”
In his Twitter post on Saturday, Mr. Tootoo said his book deals with topics such as his “journey with alcohol addiction.”
Regarding the alleged assault in 2003, he wrote, “If I am being totally honest with you, I don’t recall knowing or hearing about the incident in question during or after the tournament.”
“I was shocked when I heard about it in the media and will co-operate fully with any investigation.”
Asked about Mr. Tootoo’s descriptions of the 2003 world junior team’s sexual behaviour, Marc Habsheid, who was the team’s head coach, said he hadn’t heard of the incident until Friday.
“I was shocked about it,” he said.
The World Junior Championship tournament is held annually. It usually begins on Boxing Day and lasts into the first week of January. The 2021-2022 event was postponed when players on several teams tested positive for COVID-19. It is scheduled to be held in Edmonton next month. The 2022-23 event will begin on Boxing Day and will be held in Halifax.
Hockey Canada is supposed to be the host of both events. The world’s governing body for hockey, the Switzerland-based International Ice Hockey Foundation, has requested that the organization turn over information about the 2018 sexual abuse complaint. The IIHF has also asked for details of how the complaint was addressed by the organization.
The IIHF did not respond to a question on Saturday about whether it would consider removing Hockey Canada from its role as host.
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