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Virtanen released from professional tryout agreement by the Oilers


The Edmonton Oilers announced on Thursday that they have released Jake Virtanen from his professional tryout agreement.

Virtanen was signed to the PTO last month after being found not guilty of sexual assault in July.

The decision drew immediate backlash from advocates for victims of sexual assault, who drew parallels with the Hockey Canada scandal.

“Well, it speaks to me that the Oilers are sending a message that they are taking the verdict at face value, regardless of what the allegations were — which were very, very serious — and just sweeping it under the carpet like they did at Hockey Canada in 2003, and again in 2018, and it's really, really disappointing," Mary Jane James, CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton told the Canadian Press on Sept. 19.

"It is sending a horrible message to our community of what they prioritize. They prioritize their chances of having a successful team over the horrible message of having someone on their team who's been accused of such a horrific crime."

She added teams need to make a point not to sign such players to change hockey culture for the better.

"We are never going to get to the other side unless we start putting our money where our mouths are and that is, we are not going to associate with anyone who has this history," she said. "We will not. And that will send a message to others that may say, 'Don't think it's worth it.'"

Virtanen was a right-winger with the Vancouver Canucks when he was charged in January in connection with an incident in a Vancouver hotel room in September 2017.

The Canucks placed him on leave and bought out his contract. 

With files from The Canadian Press. Top Stories

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