Makar remains among players suspended by Hockey Canada pending appeal

Hockey Canada said Monday all 22 players from its 2018 world junior team remain suspended from representing the country at any international tournaments where the federation has control over rosters — including the Olympics and world championships — in light of sexual assault charges filed against five members of that team.

That includes NHL All-Stars Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche and Robert Thomas of the St. Louis Blues, who are not among those charged. Hockey Canada, in a statement responding to charges, said anyone involved with that team is “ineligible to play, coach, officiate or volunteer with Hockey Canada-sanctioned programs.”

A Hockey Canada spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press that the appeals process that began in November is ongoing. After announcing the NHL would allow its players to participate in the next two Olympics, Commissioner Gary Bettman referenced players appealing Hockey Canada’s decision.

Makar has repeatedly denied any involvement in the alleged sexual assault that led to charges against Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod and Cal Foote of the New Jersey Devils, Dillion Dube of the Calgary Flames and former NHL player Alex Formenton.

“I’ve been kind of straightforward from the start that I wasn’t there,” Makar said Thursday during All-Star Weekend in Toronto. “I can’t stress enough that I wasn’t a part of that.”

Thomas, when asked about the situation, said: “I’ve said my comments and my statements. I’ve cooperated with the investigation, and that all I’m going to comment (on) at this.”

Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly were asked about those players’ eligibility in tournaments moving forward, including the “4 Nations Face-off” scheduled to include the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Finland in February 2025. Daly said Hockey Canada had no say in who could play in that NHL-run event.

“This tournament is our tournament,” Daly said. “It will be our eligibility rules, not Hockey Canada’s.”

Makar, a 2022 Stanley Cup champion and playoff MVP who was also voted the league’s best defenseman that season, said it was tough not to be able to play in the world championships last year because of the Hockey Canada suspension.

“But at the end of the day, actions have consequences, and that’s what I was taught growing up,” Makar said.

Source: Rocky Mountain News

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