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Most painful, obviously, is the way he speaks about Ribeiro’s vital place on the roster while the centerman faces a civil suit alleging that he sexually violated an 18-year-old nanny to his children a few years ago.
If Ribeiro didn’t re-sign with Nashville, “that changes a lot,” Poile told 102.5 The Game in Nashville on Tuesday. “It’s a good fit for us, in where he plays in our line up,” he added, wondering where he could find another center of Ribeiro’s caliber.
Equally as painful is the way he draws a line in the sand between the Mike Ribeiro that is alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman in her sleep and then forced her down when she attempted to flee, and the sober Mike Ribeiro that played for the Predators last season.
Poile views the Predators as a halfway house for wayward players, and that’s fine. But equating what Ribeiro’s alleged to have done, in an active civil suit, with cleaning up Jordin Tootoo is a hell of a stretch.
Here’s what Poile had to say about Ribeiro at his media availability on Tuesday, after punting on the subject at the NHL Draft over the weekend:
“We spent a lot of time with Mike before signing him last year. He talked about his past and his plan and commitment moving forward, both on and off the ice. After much discussion, we did sign him last July to a one-year deal. Mike turned out to be a good teammate, a productive player and a person of character amongst his teammates, the community and with his family. He did make us aware of the potential civil case, but that was prepared to defend himself vigorously. That civil case was filed in March. At the time, and now, we do not think it appropriate to comment since the case is in the legal process.
“We should also point to our track record, being an organization of integrity and character and in particular the focus on having good people as part of this organization. We have a strong track record of dealing with players – from suspending two players during the playoffs for off0cie actions, to supporting Jordin Tootoo and encouraging his participation in the league’s program to get his life in order, to signing players like Brian McGrattan and Rich Clune who has had issues earlier in their respective careers, but were on the right track and became productive members of our team, both on and off the ice.
“It is important to point out it is a civil case and there have been no criminal charges filed or alleged, And after reviewing the case with the NHL and law enforcement representatives, we are comfortable moving ahead. We understand there may be questions about the case, but we respectfully request that we refrain from judgment until the legal process has been completed. As such, we cannot comment further.
“We weren’t with Mike during the earlier years, but we’ve seen him as a good person this year, both on and off the ice. He and his family are doing very well and are comfortable here. That’s why we hope to sign him. I applaud him for his efforts for being a good husband, father and family man.”
Later in the day, Poile was on 102.5 The Game and reaffirmed much of what he said, with a bit more on the case:
“We were aware of the thing you were talking about before we signed him last year. This happened in 2012, in Dallas. We’ve talked to the NHL law enforcement agencies, and the NHL, if you will, and the Ribeiros themselves. We’re as comfortable as you can be in a situation.
“It’s a civil case. You can’t comment on it, and I don’t want to comment on it either. It’s a legal process. This is obviously real unfortunate when somebody says something and, again, it’s allegations. Again, I talked to Mike a couple of weeks ago about these situations, and they’re trying to resolve this as best possible. We had a lot of loooong discussions with Mike and Tammy about the troubles he’s had in his past. The addictions and that type of situation. All I can tell you is that all of those things happened before we had Mike. He’s been a great teammate and a very productive player. He and his wife and family have been very good in our community.
“I knock on wood that Mike and his family can keep it going as a family and as a father. We’ve told Mike that we have his back, but he has to be a model citizen.
“We’ve all given people second chances in our lives. If you remember Jordin Tootoo, a very popular player, we were very instrumental in getting Jordin into the NHL substance abuse program. And when he came here last year, he hugged me for a long time.
“Life isn’t perfect and we’re not perfect individuals. We’re just doing our best, trying to run a good organization with good people.”
Again, the comparisons with Tootoo are astoundingly inappropriate, given the accusations Ribeiro faces.
It’s pretty clear in reading all of this, and especially the latter part, that Poile (a) sees Ribeiro as reformed from the person he was when the assault allegedly went down and (b) he sees a “resolution” for this case before the details are spelled out in court. It’s also pretty clear that Ribeiro is a player Poile needs in his lineup, and as such is comfortable enough to bring him back despite the details of the allegations coming to light.
This story has gotten national attention, and there’s been national media pressure on Poile. That’s fine. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter unless Predators fans decide it matters.
All politics are local. If you’re a woman that loves the Preds but this re-signing turns your stomach, don’t be silent. If you’re a guy that loves the Preds but can’t support someone like Ribeiro, let your voice be heard. Because right now, the Predators clearly believe that the past doesn’t factor in the present, that Ribeiro is just another rehabbed player and that you think a No. 1 center trumps a player facing this type of civil case.
Which is to say that, the outcome being whatever it'll be, I'd rather not have him on my team.
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