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Former Lightning defenseman Cal Foote named in 2018 Team Canada sexual assault investigation

Feb 11, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Cal Foote (52) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Please note that the following article contains details of an alleged sexual assault.

On Tuesday, Rick Westhead of TSN, wrote an article that seemed to confirm what many in the hockey world have expected for weeks in regards to the investigation of a sexual assault by players of the 2018 Team Canada World Juniors team. Four NHL players, including former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Cal Foote, along with former NHLer Alex Formenton who was playing in the Swiss professional league, were charged by London, Ontario police in connection with the assault.

Westhead wrote that, according to his sources, Formenton, Foote, Dillon Dube, Michael McLeod, and Carter Hart were the players that were asked to surrender to police by early February. All five men are alleged to be responsible for sexually assaulting a woman (whose name is being kept confidential) in a hotel room following a Hockey Canada Foundation event on June 19, 2018.

Foote was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 draft. Following the draft he stayed with his junior team, the Kelowna Rockets, the following season and was selected to play in the 2018 Men’s World Juniors Championship for Team Canada, a squad that featured 19 future NHLers including former Lightning draft picks Brett Howden, Boris Katchouk, and Taylor Raddysh. Canada won the gold medal in that tournament and Foote returned to Kelowna to finish out the season. Once his junior season was done he appeared in 6 regular season games for the Syracuse Crunch where he scored his first career professional goal. He had a goal and an assist in 7 playoff games for the Crunch that season as well.

It was in the summer of 2018 that the assault took place according to the allegations. According to the statements the victim made to the police, following a Hockey Canada Foundation Golf and Gala event she met a player at a bar and went to a hotel with him. After engaging in consensual sexual acts with the woman, who has only been identified as E.M., the player invited teammates into the room where the non-consensual sexual acts allegedly took place.

Foote, who had signed his entry-level contract in April of 2018, played with the Crunch for the next two seasons before making his NHL debut with the Lightning in the 2020-21 season playing in 35 games. Despite not appearing in any of the playoff games that year, his name was added to the Stanley Cup. Foote split time between Tampa and Syracuse the next season and made it into 13 playoff games for the Lightning. He made the Lightning roster out of training camp in 2022-23 and stayed with the Lightning until the trade deadline when he was included in the Tanner Jeannot deal with Nashville.

After finishing the season in Nashville, he was not tendered a contract by the Predators. Late in the summer he signed a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, playing in 4 games for the Devils and while the rest of the season was spent in Utica. Like the other players named in Westhead’s report, Foote took a leave of absence from his team last week.

News of the incident began when it was reported that Hockey Canada had settled a $3.55 million lawsuit that E.M. had brought against Hockey Canada, the CHL, and eight unnamed players that were connected to the attack. That led to the NHL and Hockey Canada asking for investigations which were followed by the London police re-opening their investigation in July of 2022 after they had a closed one without charges in February of 2019. In October of 2022, the police filed documents in court to seek court orders.

More than a year later, in January of 2024 it was reported by the Globe and Mail that the police had instructed five players to surrender to police.

The lawyers for all of the players named in Westhead’s report have confirmed the charges and maintained their client’s innocence. Foote is being represented by Juianna Greenspan of Greenspan Partners LLP:

There is currently no date scheduled for a trial. The London, Ontario Police Services are scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday February 5th.

If you, or someone you know, is the victim of sexual assault, resources are available. The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative has created a resource to help survivors of assault. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE.

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