Speculate no more about the status of Andrew Fritsch, Nick Cousins and Mark Petaccio. The three players, charged late Saturday night with a serious offence, will not attend the training camp for the Soo Greyhounds that kicks off Wednesday morning.
The Greyhounds put out a statement on Saturday moments before the charges were announced, but the final word came in a crafted statement today posted on the Soo Greyhounds website by top-dog Kyle Dubas, the young general manager.
Our hockey program has been working through the various issues that have arisen as a result of the filing of criminal charges against Nicholas Cousins, Andrew Fritsch, and Mark Petaccio Saturday evening. The resultant public and media attention, and the stress which results from such accusations, affects all concerned. Given these affects, the club has decided that is in the best interests of all that all three young men, with their consent, to immediately commence a confidential behavioural wellness program which will help each young man prepare, mentally and emotionally, to deal with living their lives and dealing with the issues and resultant stress, in a stable manner, as this court case works it's way through the legal process. Our club wants to ensure that each of the young men have the proper counselling which will help guide each of them through what is a very trying time. Each player has voluntarily agreed to enter the program. The counselling of the 3 players will be followed up with counselling of the balance of the team to deal with issues arising as a result of the accusations. [Soo Greyhounds]
The statement goes on to say that the team's priority is to develop "responsible people first, and hockey players second" and the situation for the three players will be re-assessed when the three complete the behavioural program.
Dubas stressed that the three voluntarily entered the program, but it was likely at the behest of the Greyhounds' management. Whether the charges result in convictions or not, it doesn't look like the players will play in the OHL for some time.
A point raised by Bill Montague of the Sault Star on Tuesday suggests that Fritsch and Cousins, prospects in the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers' system, may be on the phone with their agents to get them off of the team and playing somewhere else, but the statement from Dubas leaves that door open. The team will see this situation with their players to the very end, whether it's the behavioural program or the court case.
Meanwhile, the camp is officially underway at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning with 42 skaters and five goaltenders. The full roster was posted about an hour before training camp convened.