Swiss team ready to dump Jake Virtanen after riots with teammate

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The former Vancouver Canucks proved unpopular with his Visp teammates, a Swiss newspaper reports.

Jake Virtanen was bought by the Canucks in the summer of 2021. Photo by Derek Leung /PNG

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Former Vancouver Canuck Jake Virtanen was fired by his Swiss club on the eve of the playoffs.

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According to a report by Swiss newspaper Le Matin, Virtanen got into an altercation with his teammate on the bench towards the end of a game last month and was kicked off the team.

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Virtanen joined EHC Visp in the Swiss second division in November to restart a playing career that was cut short by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a sexual assault court case.

Virtanen was acquired by the Canucks in the summer of 2021 and signed with Moscow Spartak for the 2021-22 KHL season. But like many other non-Russian players, Virtanen left the KHL after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022.

Virtanen spent his time at home in Kelowna and then went on trial on sexual assault charges last summer. He was found not guilty by a jury and turned his attention back to resuming his hockey career.

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He spent the NHL preseason playing a tryout with the Edmonton Oilers, but the Canucks’ Pacific Division rivals did not offer him a permanent contract. In early October, it is difficult for free agents to find places in Europe, whatever their track record.

Virtanen finally found Visp. Before his dismissal, he made 21 appearances, scored 14 goals and added 11 assists.

But Le Matin reports that Virtanen has proven to be an unpopular teammate, accusing him in an article of “turning his back on his teammates” and only caring about the name on the back of his sweater, not on in front.

According to the report published on Tuesday, Virtanen was benched late in the 5-1 defeat by La Chaux-de-Fonds by Visp head coach Marco Schuepbach.

Virtanen then got into a physical altercation with his teammate Daniel Eigenmann.

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Eigenmann seems to have gone to the management on behalf of his friends, Le Matin reports, and said, “It’s him or us.”

Le Nouvelliste, another Swiss newspaper, says that Virtanen has been suspended from Visp.

Visp management has not commented on the altercation or the ultimatum provided by Eigenmann, but they have confirmed that they are ready to extradite him.

The Swiss league playoffs start next week.

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