Sheldon Kennedy is a busy man. “We do not visit the 32 teams of the National League,” he recalled. But on Monday, he was at the Canadiens’ development camp.
Posted at 5:17 p.m.
Kennedy is this former player victim of sexual assault at the junior level, who then co-founded the Respect Group, a company that offers training on bullying, abuse, harassment, discrimination and respect.
The Respect Group was here to offer in-person training, an initiative that is obviously attracting attention with the presence of Logan Mailloux in Brossard this week.
Kennedy and Bruno Gervais, another former player involved in the Respect Group, therefore met several CH hopefuls, including Mailloux. Gervais came away impressed.
“It threw me to the ground how grounded he is, launched Gervais, in the press scrum. It’s still a fragile subject, that’s normal, but he talks about it, and the work that comes by itself is impressive.
“He takes a negative and tries to turn it into a positive. I wish him a long career, but he will have a longer life after his career. He will be a human, so if he can continue to have a positive impact… He made a mistake, he was transparent, he was judged in the public square. He can be an inspiration. Maybe it’s him who’ll grab one by the shoulder and bring him back before it’s too late. His maturity impressed me. »
Kennedy also met the one the Habs drafted in the first round (31e in total) in 2021 and was treated to what he called “very good conversation”.
“We were able to communicate about the issues and that in itself is big. Too often, we can’t talk about these problems, people don’t know where to start. It was a healthy discussion. I wish Logan success, I hope he continues to learn. »
Mailloux’s future with the Canadiens remains unclear. His presence at the development camp is an encouraging sign for the young man, who had not been invited to the training camp in 2021, as a result of the crime of a sexual nature he committed in 2020 in Sweden, when he had 17 years.
He still does not have a contract and Kent Hughes, general manager of the CH who inherited Mailloux within his bank of hopes, affirmed, in May, that he had no intention of granting him a contract. contract this summer. “Logan is still being evaluated, less as a hockey player than as a person, as a member of a community,” he explained.
The Canadian has until May 31, 2023 to reach an agreement with Mailloux, failing which the defender will again become eligible for the draft. A three-month suspension from the Ontario Junior League and an early season-ending shoulder injury meant he only played 12 games last season.
In short, on the simple level of hockey, the decision will not be easy. But from a human perspective, Gervais wishes Mailloux was given another chance. This season, in London, the Ontarian notably followed a therapy, as well as a plan with a counselor in academic and personal development.
“We are quick to want to throw players into oblivion, not just Mailloux,” said the former defender. If we just throw them away, we won’t move forward as a society. A lot of people have a quick opinion, but don’t have half the education Mailloux had and the work he did. This is not to excuse the gesture. But then we can move on. »
Players to educate
When the press scrum ended, half a dozen CH hopefuls showed up in the conference room. Mailloux was one of them. The first screen of a PowerPoint presentation appeared on a projector.
“One thing we often hear is that these young people have never had an education on it,” Kennedy said. If players were asked the definition of assault, bullying, discrimination and harassment, what are their chances of getting the right answers? Not very high. But we expect them to be good. You have to educate the players first, then create a channel in the organization to communicate it. »
At the Canadian, the holding of this training was accelerated by the storm raised by the selection of Mailloux. In September, the organization announced an investment of $1 million in a plan to raise awareness of the dangers of cyber sexual violence. This would be aimed at both the public and members of the organization, it had been indicated.