Mike Ribeiro has been given a second chance with the Nashville Predators, and the league is making sure he doesn’t forget it.
In a tell-all exposé with Sports Illustrated earlier last month, the 35-year-old center confessed to the problems he’s had since he was a junior hockey player; in a remarkable burst of honesty, the Quebec native gave the hockey world a deep look at what, exactly, had gone so wrong in his life. He mentioned the drugs, the way he treated his wife, and didn’t shy away from how far he’d fallen — in a world where we often try to make personal struggles more glamorous than they really are, Ribeiro was honest and open about exactly how ugly his life had become prior to his 45-day rehab stint this past summer.
The Nashville Predators made it abundantly clear that he’s on his last chance with their team, though — so the accusations of assault recently brought up against the veteran skater put the team in a position where they might have to follow through on their word.
While with the Arizona Coyotes, Ribeiro’s off-ice issues made their way into his game; the combination of his own ill-advised decisions and the way it affected his relationship with the team’s coaching staff (and, likely, his own teammates) saw a drop in production out of the forward worthy of the buyout he received. With Nashville, though, he’s back to his old form — and tearing up the league in a way that suggests a suspension will likely mean the team as a whole taking a hit for it. His thirteen goals and forty-one assists with the Predators show he’s an impact player on the team — no matter what his impact is on the ice, though, the team must decide whether the assault allegations warrant a suspension.
The assault itself is still a pending case, brought to the public eye by TMZ two days after the trade deadline when they broke the story of Ribeiro’s ex-nanny’s accusations. The former nanny worked for the Ribeiro’s back in 2012 when they lived in Dallas, Texas — the allegations fall around the time Ribeiro himself was between the Stars and the Washington Capitals — and include allusions to Mike sexually assaulting the nanny and his wife threatening the young woman.
The Predators have made it clear that they knew about the allegations when they signed the forward, only going as far as to say that they have been deemed ‘without merit’ by certain parties. Of course, none of the specifics of the case have been made public, and the victim has not been publicly identified.
If the Predators knew about the situation before they signed him, then this doesn’t break the agreement he made with the team to be clear and straight and he moved forward with the franchise; part of the condition behind his one-year contract with the team was that he avoid any incidents at all. One wrong move, and he’d be gone — that was made quite clear.
Although there’s an overwhelming consensus that the Voynov case is without any evidence suggesting that Voynov himself is NOT guilty, one of the mechanisms in place within the judicial system protects the accused from being deemed ‘more guilty’ during a trial. If the league is choosing to make an outward statement regarding sexual assault and domestic violence with the suspension of Voynov, it would seem the league needs to stand by that statement by applying their actions across the board. Under that argument, it would appear unfair for Ribeiro to not be suspended while his case is undergoing trial.
It’s a strange situation for the league to be in, but it holds the power to truly permit the NHL to take a strong stance against that kind of behavior — whether Ribeiro truly engaged in it or not.