CALGARY - Facing charges after a dust-up at a bar in Cochrane, Calgary Flames prospect Michael Ferland is maintaining his innocence.
The 20-year-old winger — a 2010 fifth-round draft choice who has spent the past three seasons with the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings — has been charged with one count each of assault and aggravated assault stemming from a July 29 melee outside a bar in the town just west of Calgary.
Cops said a group of people had gathered outside a drinking establishment at around 1:10 a.m. when one male was pushed to the ground.
When another man came over to assist him, he was struck in the face, knocked unconscious and had the orbital bone around his eye fractured.
Police said the attacker then fled from the scene but an investigation led to the charges.
Through his Calgary lawyer, Michael Bates, Ferland released a statement Tuesday denying any wrongdoing.
“It upset me to hear that someone might have been hurt and I am embarrassed by these accusations but I trust the court process and look forward to having this situation behind me as soon as possible” Ferland said.
Ferland is scheduled to appear in Cochrane provincial court Sept. 4.
The Flames also released a statement after learning of the situation earlier in the day.
“We met with Michael and are taking steps to acquire information as it relates to the situation,” the NHL club's statement said.
“While embarrassed, Michael maintains he is innocent with respect to the charges and he has displayed concern for any harm that has resulted from this incident.
“The organization will support Michael as he moves through the legal process. As a result of legal considerations, we are limited in the information we can publicly discuss and are unable to provide any further comment at this time.”
The timing couldn't be worse, as Ferland — who is more known for robust physical play along the wall — was coming off a 47-goal, 96-point season with the Wheat Kings after putting up 23 goals and 56 points in 2010-11.
The Swan Lake, Man. product is likely slated to begin his professional career this fall with the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat after signing a three-year, entry-level deal worth $825,000 with the Flames in May 2011.
Over three seasons in the WHL, the 6-foot, 195-pounder was involved in 31 on-ice fights, in addition to one scrap last fall during the Flames' Young Stars tournament.
It's not the first time a member of the Flames organization has found himself in trouble outside a bar. In November 2010, forward Brett Sutter, now with the Carolina Hurricanes, was arrested in outside a Scottsdale, Ariz., bar for punching a cab driver.
Sutter, the son of former Flames GM Darryl Sutter, eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a small fine.