Skip to content

COLUMN: Formenton's family ties in Simcoe County run deep

Former Ottawa Senators forward, who has been charged with sexual assault, has previously said he played his minor hockey in Barrie until minor bantam
Barrie native Alex Formenton is shown during his Ontario Hockey League days with the London Knights.

Up until he was charged with sexual assault relating to an alleged incident after a Hockey Canada gala almost six years ago in London, Ont., Alex Formenton’s ties to Barrie were largely unknown.

Much grey area remains, despite media reports specifically stating that the 24-year-old former Ottawa Senator is a resident of the city, including at Monday afternoon’s news conference in London that provided background on the investigation and revealed charges against Formenton, as well as four other members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

In 2018, five months after the alleged incident, I approached Formenton’s father at a hockey game in Oshawa seeking clarification on his son’s background.

Not much was forthcoming.

“We're from Barrie,” I recall Mr. Formenton saying, “but Alex played hockey in Aurora.”

The Aurora Tigers are part of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. 

It is not unusual for parents of minor hockey players who move their kids to other associations, such as the Greater Toronto Hockey League, to be vague on details, especially before rules were relaxed regarding where players could suit up outside of their hometown.

According to an interview Alex Formenton gave to Faces Magazine, he learned to play hockey here in Barrie.

Barrie native Alex Formenton is shown after being drafted by the Ottawa Senators in June 2017. | Aaron Bell/OHL Images

“My older brother inspired me to get involved with hockey,” Alex said in an interview that is still available online. “He was a big reason that I got into hockey because, even at age of three, I was always tagging along with him to go skating on the recreation rinks here in Barrie.

“... I played minor hockey in Barrie until minor bantam, which is was when I went down to the GTHL.”

In the same interview with Evan Childerhose, Formenton said he moved to the GTHL to play for the Toronto Young Nationals. It was there that Formenton was coached by Leafs legend Wendel Clark, who had a son, Kody, on the Young Nats.

As it turns out, both Formenton (Ottawa) and Clark (Washington) were drafted 47th overall in the NHL Draft, a year apart in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Formenton’s selection by the Senators was part of a quick ascent he made up the junior hockey ranks. It started soon after the London Knights selected him in the 11th round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.

From there, Formenton spent a year playing for the Aurora Tigers before making the Knights ahead of the 2016-17 season.

His selection by the Senators was followed in quick succession by his NHL debut in the fall of 2017, where Formenton became the youngest player to suit up in an NHL game during the 2017-18 season.

It was after the Senators sent Formenton back to London that year that he made the Canadian world junior team that eventually won gold in Buffalo.

Formenton also played nine games for the Senators during the 2018-19 season, but was sent back to London for the rest of season. An injury in a pre-tournament game prevented him from playing for Team Canada at the 2019 world juniors in Vancouver.

The years that followed included time split with the Senators and its American Hockey League affiliate in Belleville. During 2021-22, Formenton played his first full season in the NHL, scoring 18 goals and 14 assists in 78 games.

Out of contract at the time when TSN first reported on the alleged incident that has now led to charges, Formenton failed to come to an agreement with the Senators and spent the past two seasons playing in Switzerland.

It was widely speculated at the time that part of the reason for the impasse with the Senators was the uncertainty surrounding what took place in London, where Formenton and the rest of his teammates had been celebrating their gold-medal victory six months earlier.

Formenton is currently on a leave of absence with no public timetable to return. Officials at his Swiss club, Ambri-Piotta, had said before signing Formenton that his status would be reviewed if he faced charges.

None of the allegations against Formenton or the other players have been tested in court. 

To date, Formenton remains on leave, but has made no public comment or appearance since surrendering himself to London authorities eight days ago.

Formenton’s lawyer appeared on his behalf in a London courtroom on Monday. The case was put over to April.

Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Peter Robinson

About the Author: Peter Robinson

Barrie's Peter Robinson is a sports columnist for BarrieToday. He is the author of Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto, his take on living with the disease of being a Leafs fan.
Read more