Canucks' Jake Virtanen Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Placed on Leave

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 1, 2021

Vancouver Canucks right winger Jake Virtanen(18) during an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Toronto, Canada. (AP Photo/Peter Power)
Peter Power/Associated Press

The Vancouver Canucks have placed forward Jake Virtanen on leave after an unnamed woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

"We have become aware of the concerning allegations made about Jake Virtanen," the Canucks said in a statement released Saturday (h/t ESPN's Emily Kaplan).

"Our organization does not accept sexual misconduct of any kind and the claims as reported are being treated very seriously by us. We have engaged external expertise to assist in an independent investigation and we have placed the player on leave as we wait more information."

Alanna Kelly of Glacier Media spoke exclusively with the woman, who was not identified due to "fear of public backlash," per Kelly.

The woman told Kelly she agreed to meet Virtanen in Sept. 2017. He picked her up in a car and brought her to a Vancouver hotel, where she says he committed sexual misconduct toward her.

"I couldn't believe that I said no and he didn't take that for an answer," Emily told Kelly. "I felt violated and gross and wanted to leave."

The woman has contacted the police, per Kelly. No charges have been filed as of Saturday.

Kelly reported the woman made her allegations public after seeing similar stories posted on an anonymous, private Instagram account.

The NHL also released a statement via deputy commissioner Bill Daly: "We are aware of this issue and have been in contact with the club regarding appropriate response. We don't have any further comment at this time."

Vancouver selected Virtanen sixth overall in the 2014 NHL draft. The 24-year-old has played in 317 regular-season games with the Canucks over six seasons, beginning in 2015-16.