SUNRISE, Fla. – Predators general manager David Poile did not comment on the release of court documents in Mike Ribeiro’s civil lawsuit for the player's alleged sexual assault of a former nanny to his family.
When asked at the NHL Draft if any of this information, which was brought forth last week by On the Forecheck, changed the team’s stance on re-signing the player, Poile referred to the statement the team used in March when the civil suit was reported by TMZ.
“We had a statement back then that’s the same statement we have now which is there’s nothing new to comment on,” he said.
When asked if he had knowledge of the details in the case when the team signed Ribeiro last summer to a one-year $1.05 million contract, Poile again deflected to the team’s statement. According to The Tennessean, Ribeiro’s agents said the Predators were “aware of the allegations prior to being signed.”
“I’m a one-trick pony here … there’s nothing new to comment on,” Poile said. “There’s nothing new to comment on.”
Clearly it was an uncomfortable spot for Poile. The sexual assault allegations stem from before Ribeiro was on the Predators. According to On the Forecheck, the nanny started working with the family in 2007. The civil suit against Ribeiro was filed in August 2014.
Ribeiro has gone to great lengths to say he has reformed aspects of his life, including a substance abuse problem. Publicly he has proven it. But the particulars of the allegations are just deplorable.
Warning, the below details provided in a story by OTF, are graphic in nature.
A few days before [the nanny] was scheduled to leave, Mike and Tamara went out with some of Mike's teammates. When they came home, Mike went down to the basement where [she] was sleeping with the kids. ... [The nanny] woke up with Mike's hands all over her. She did not move. She tried to say something but nothing would come out. Mike saw [she] was awake, but he did not stop. [She] mustered her voice and told him he needed to leave.
She did not scream because she did not want to wake the children who were in the bed right next to her. Mike was fully clothed and wearing a suit. His hand was on her breasts and he was pleasuring himself at the same time. [...]
Knowing Poile from my time covering the Predators, he doesn’t take reclamation projects lightly. He doesn’t just take on problems without research. Regardless of what Ribeiro’s agents from Newport Sports said, it’s easy to think that Poile knew about the case but harder to think Poile knew about the horrific nature of these details.
Have the allegations changed Nashville’s stance on him? This is an organization that suspended two guys in the playoffs for going out and partying the night before a game.
But Poile won't say either way, when given to defend himself and say ‘no’ or at very least give a usable answer.
The Nashville Scene had a very reasonable take on this, noting that this is a civil complaint. But ...
The Predators, however, are not beholden to the standards of the judicial system. Having signed just a one-year deal, Ribeiro is set to become a free agent July 1. After a blistering start to the season, it was accepted as a fait accompli Ribeiro would continue wearing a gold sweater in 2015-16. But for whatever reason, a mid-year extension never came to fruition (it's possible that as this case proceeded, Poile adopted a wait-and-see approach to the situation).
It's now easy for the Predators to cut ties. Poile must simply do nothing. As much difficulty as the Predators have had historically in signing a first-line center, it pales in comparison to the difficulty Poile would have explaining that he extended the employment of an accused sexual predator with horrific allegations hanging over his head.
If saving face means he loses Ribeiro, so be it. After Ribeiro rejected Nashville’s most recent offer he said, "There's always Plan A, B and C in this situation, so if Mike's not going to sign with us, we already have other things in the works," Poile said.
Ribeiro is 35 years old. He wants a multi-year deal. Though he had 62 points last year, the Predators have a crop of solid young forwards coming up through the system. They have the best defense/goaltender combo in the NHL. This guy’s not worth going to the mat for.
There’s always stuff behind the scenes going on. There’s always further context. But given a chance to explain any of this, Poile punted.
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