A few of the Windsor Spitfires were skating at the WFCU Centre early Monday afternoon.
Ben Johnson was among them.
Friday, several of the Spitfires signed autographs at a local eatery.
Johnson was also among this group.
He'll be on the ice with the team when training-camp drills begin today in preparation for the 2013-14 Ontario Hockey League season, and the team insists this is no big deal.
"Nothing's really different from my point of view," Spitfires coach and co-owner Bob Boughner said.
Actually, something is significantly different. Johnson, 19, is facing sexual assault charges in connection with two incidents that allegedly took place in the washrooms of local bars in March. He is currently awaiting trial.
Like anyone accused of a crime, Johnson, who was not made available for comment Monday, deserves his due process, but the issue here goes beyond whether he is innocent or guilty.
Spitfires players are significant members of the local community, and those who play for the team serve as representatives of the team. Youngsters look up to them as role models.
Boughner said it never entered his mind to release Johnson from the team.
"Absolutely not," Boughner said. "I don't want to comment too much about it because it is a legal matter in the courts, but from my point of view, we're trying to win hockey games and we're going to put the best players on the ice."
Johnson scored 20 goals for Windsor last season and you have to wonder if he weren't so productive on the ice, would they be as willing to go to the wall for him? "From a coaching perspective, I treat this as a team," Boughner said.
"I know there's a lot of individuals and we have a lot of different things to manage in that dressing room.
"As for Ben's case, he's a third-year player for us and I'm going to treat him just like I treat everybody else.
"He's part of our team."
Boughner said he hadn't even interacted with Johnson since the left-winger returned to his home in Calumet, Mich., following the 2012-13 season.
"To be honest with you, I haven't talked to him," Boughner said. "That's a private matter. It's a personal thing. If Ben needs someone to talk to, I'm always here."
Boughner feels that Johnson's presence on the club's roster won't prove to be a distraction as the season progresses and his legal matters unfold before the courts.
"Not on our end," Boughner said. "I don't think so. It's been 5-6 months since the news.
"From here on out, for us, it's about getting ready for the home opener. That's all it is."
It's a nice thought, but one that's far from reality.
The Spitfires can try to isolate themselves from the outside world within the walls of their arena, but for many who live outside those walls, seeing Johnson wearing Spitfires colours is not going to sit well at all.
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