NHL to interview Lightning's Ian Cole following suspension over sexual misconduct allegations

Side by side images of Ian Cole with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Getty Images)

The NHL will have an in-person interview with Ian Cole, a defenseman who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year. He was suspended over the weekend following allegations made on social media that he sexually abused a woman when she was a minor.

According to ESPN, Jared Maples, the league's chief security officer, will be conducting the interview Wednesday in New York. The outlet also reports that, according to sources, it was the Lightning who decided to suspend Cole until the investigation is complete. 

The Bolts said Sunday night they were fully cooperating with the NHL on an investigation and were making the decision to suspend Cole until they gather more details.

"Our organization takes these allegations very seriously," the team said in a statement. "No members of the organization, including players, will comment further at this time."

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Cole, in a statement sent by agent Kevin Magnuson, said he completely denies the allegations and will cooperate with the league, team and their legal departments in the forthcoming investigation.

"I take the allegations made against me today in an anonymous tweet very seriously," Cole said. "I look forward to clearing my name and demonstrating to the NHL and the Tampa Bay Lightning that these allegations are unfounded."

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press earlier Sunday the league had launched an investigation. Daly added the league had no prior knowledge of the allegations until they were posted on social media.

Among the allegations posted anonymously to Twitter on Friday by an account created last month, the person said Cole pressured her into having sex multiple times when she was a minor in high school after he had reached the NHL.

She noted that Cole was "well aware of my age" when the alleged abuse occurred.

"As a teen, I didn't even know what grooming was," she wrote. "When you're young and this happens to you, you don't realize you are a victim. As I got older and built self-esteem, I started to fully understand the extent of what happened to me and that this could never have been consensual."

In the posting, the person accused Cole of emotional and sexual abuse, and said the NHL must hold itself and its players accountable for creating an environment of misogynistic and predatory behavior.

The 33-year-old Cole made his NHL debut with St. Louis in 2010 and played five seasons for the Blues before being traded to Pittsburgh. It was not clear where he was playing when the person said Cole sexually abused and groomed her.

Cole, a Michigan native, has played 780 regular-season and playoff games with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Colorado, Minnesota and Carolina. He signed a $3 million, one-year contract with Tampa Bay in July.

The investigation of Cole comes as the NHL is in the midst of reviewing allegations made by woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight members of the Canada’s world junior team at a gala in 2018. News surfaced earlier this year Hockey Canada settled a lawsuit with the woman. Several players from that team currently play in the NHL.

The Associated Press contributed to this report