Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen is reportedly being considered for a roster spot on the Canadian men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (Instagram photo)

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen is reportedly being considered for a roster spot on the Canadian men’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (Instagram photo)

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen receiving Olympic interest

Yale Secondary grad on long list for men’s hockey consideration for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen appears to be in the running for a spot on the Team Canada men’s hockey team for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Scott Wheeler of the The Athletic recently shared a list of players that his sources stated are on the long list for consideration for the Olympics, which run from Feb. 4 to 20 in China.

The National Hockey League announced on Dec. 22 that its players will not be participating in the event back, meaning the rosters are open to other professional or major junior league teams from around the globe.

The decision not to go was largely due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, which spiked again last month.

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Virtanen was bought out by the Vancouver Canucks on July 25 after he cleared waivers. He signed with HC Spartak Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League in September.

The Yale Secondary grad has collected 16 points and 20 penalty minutes in 33 games in the KHL. Spartak sits in sixth place in the Western conference, with a record of 19-14-3. The KHL does not have any games scheduled during the Olympic tournament, meaning Virtanen and other players in the league could play if they choose to.

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Virtanen represented Canada at the World Junior Hockey championships in 2015 and 2016, winning a gold medal with the 2015 team. He also won gold with Canada at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and bronze at the 2014 World U18 hockey championships.

The news that Virtanen may be considered comes after a tumultuous year for the athlete, after he was put on leave on May 1 by the Canucks following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Later that month, a civil lawsuit was filed in Kelowna that alleged Virtanen took a 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, saying 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.”

In the months since, Vancouver media has asked the Canucks about any further information they can share but the team has stated that it is in the hands of the Vancouver Police Department.

The former Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association and Yale Hockey Academy product was chosen by the Canucks in round one, sixth overall of the 2014 NHL draft. He also excelled with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, recording 161 points in 192 games.

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.

The News reached out to Hockey Canada for confirmation related to interest in Virtanen, but they have not yet replied.

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