Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen has made the move to Russia and has so far collected three goals in four games for HC Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League.
According to the team’s website, the Yale Secondary grad arrived in Moscow on Sept. 21 and a few days later made his debut for the club.
Spartak Moscow currently has a record of 8-6 and sits in third place in the KHL’s Bobrov Division.
Virtanen stated in an interview on the team’s website that he is enjoying Russia and its cuisine. He added that he is impressed by the fan support and skill of the players in the KHL.
He pointed out that he chose the number 96 because it’s his birth year and also a former number of Vancouver Canucks great Pavel Bure. He went on to say that he looks forward to when the team travels to Finland to play, noting that his family will be in attendance for those games.
He has signed for one season with the KHL club after a tumultuous summer that saw the Canucks place him 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.
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 in May 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.”