Calgary Flames blasted for Dillon Dubé ‘mental health’ statement following sexual assault charge…

The way the Calgary Flames addressed forward Dillon Dubé’s absence amid sexual assault charges has drawn significant criticism, possibly serving as a prime example of poor public relations in the handling of criminal charges against athletes.

Initially, the team’s statement on January 21 indicated that Dubé was taking an indefinite leave of absence for mental health reasons, receiving initial support from fans. However, it appears that this narrative did not accurately capture the full story behind Dubé’s absence.

On January 24, The Globe and Mail reported that London, Ontario police had charged five unnamed players from the 2018 Canadian World Junior Championships team, including Dubé, with sexual assault. The charges stem from allegations made by a woman referred to as E.M., who claimed that she engaged in consensual sex with one player before others were invited to participate without her consent.

The police have not yet released the names of the accused players, but connections were made when five players who had been on the 2018 Canadian roster, including Dubé, announced leaves of absence from their respective teams. Subsequently, it was confirmed that these players were connected to the charges.

The departure announcements from these players initially cited indefinite absences and personal leave, but the Flames specifically mentioned mental health in their statement, drawing considerable criticism. The other teams involved did not cite mental health in their releases.

While acknowledging the challenges of addressing criminal charges on social media, the Flames’ use of “mental health” as a justification for Dubé’s leave of absence is deemed inappropriate. Other teams, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, faced similar challenges but managed their statements more effectively.

The Flames’ inclusion of mental health in their statement is seen as insulting to readers and diminishes the seriousness of actual mental health challenges faced by athletes. This has resulted in the Flames receiving more public backlash than others involved in this situation.

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