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Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen signs in Russia

Former Vancouver Canucks first round draft pick joins HC Spartak Moscow
Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen has signed with HC Spartak Moscow for the 2021-22 season. (HC Spartak Moscow Twitter)

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen has signed with HC Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Russian club announced the addition of the former Vancouver Canucks first round draft pick on Tuesday (Sept. 7) morning.

The Yale Secondary grad has inked a deal with the club for one season.

Spartak Moscow finished the 2020-21 season with a record of 28-25-7 and placed fourth in the KHL’s Bobrov division. The club lost in the conference quarterfinals.

Spartak Moscow has a few familiar names to hockey fans on the current roster, including former Canucks forward Sergei Shirokov, Emil Pettersson (older brother of Canucks star Elias Pettersson) and former Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick goalie Oscar Dansk.

Shriokov led the team in scoring in 2020-21 with 59 points in 42 games.

Other alumni for the team include former NHL stars: Pavel Bure, Ilya Kovalchuk and Dominik Hasek.

The Canucks placed Virtanen on leave on May 1 following allegations of sexual misconduct. He was then placed on unconditional waivers on July 25 and cleared waivers. The Canucks then bought out the remainder of his contract.

RELATED: Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

No other NHL teams decided to take a chance on Virtanen, leaving the KHL as his best available option.

A civil lawsuit was filed in Kelowna that alleges Virtanen took the woman to a hotel in West Vancouver in September 2017 and assaulted her as the woman repeatedly said no and pleaded with him to stop.

The statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and repeated and ongoing nightmares.

Virtanen responded to the lawsuit the following month, acknowledging that he did have sex with the woman, but that it was consensual. He claimed that the woman consented to the act through her words and conduct.

Virtanen added that he did not “physically force the plaintiff to have intercourse” and denies that the woman expressed “any indication, verbal or physical, that she did not want to engage in sexual activity.”

The Canucks did launch an internal investigation and have been working with local authorities, but they have not announced any details on what they have found.

Over six seasons with the Canucks he collected 100 points in 317 games. His top season was 2019-20, when he recorded 18 goals and 36 points in 69 games.

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen set to be bought out by Vancouver Canucks

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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