That former NHLer Andre Deveaux will receive a very long suspension – possibly for life – from Swedish hockey seems to be a fait accompli. But Deveaux may have a lot more to be worried about than not being able to play hockey.
The former NHL enforcer, who viciously attacked Per Helmersson in a Swedish Allsvensken game last week, could face criminal charges. That is, if anyone can find him. Deveaux seems to have either gone into hiding or disappeared since the incident last week, which caused his Rogle team to terminate his contract yesterday.
But it was announced Tuesday that Deveaux has been arrested in absentia and is a suspect in assault. The case is being handled by police and prosecutors in Helsingborg, which is the city where the Rogle BK team Deveaux played for is located. Deveaux was not at a celebration for the team held at the rink Tuesday to commemorate its Allsvensken championship and promotion to the Swedish Elite League and nobody seems to know where he is, including the local police.
Joe Resnick, who was Deveaux’s agent until this season, said Deveaux is married to a woman who has family in Rogle. But he has yet to turn himself in. An officer who answered the phone at the Helsingborg police station confirmed Deveaux is a suspect, but hasn’t yet been located to be questioned. “If you find him, let us know,” said the officer who did not give his name.
But it’s clear Deveaux could be in some very serious legal trouble here. A report was filed to police by the Vasteras team on Monday, and another one was filed by Helsingborg prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson. “I have not seen the news footage of the event, but only heard it referenced on the radio,” Persson told the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper. “But it is enough for me to find it reasonable to believe a crime was committed.”
Another local prosecutor, Margareta Danielsson-Olvon told the newspaper that if Deveaux does not turn himself in soon, he risks being charged in absentia and being placed on an international wanted list.
This all goes back to a chain of events that occurred last week in the Allsvensken final between Rogle and Vasteras. It started in Game 3 when Helmersson hit Deveaux from behind into the boards and knocked Deveaux out. Deveaux had to be helped off the ice and did not play the rest of the game. It was thought Deveaux had cracked a bone in his jaw and possibly suffered a concussion, but Rogle GM Anders Carlsson said after the game, “I cannot say whether or not it is a concussion yet.”
Then during the warm-ups prior to Game 4 of the series, Deveaux attacked Helmersson from behind, giving him a two-handed chop to the back of the legs, then jumping on his back in a scene that looked eerily like the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore attack. Deveaux was not penalized on the play and few people were even aware it had occurred. In an interview after the game when asked about the incident: “It happens. It just goes to show how emotional and how both teams want to win…it was a good precursor to the game.” (Deveaux joined the post-game show at the 22:45 mark of the video below.)
Rogle went on to win the series in Game 5 in Vasteras and it was not until late in that game that the video began to go viral. When asked about the incident after the game, Deveaux said he had no regrets. The video also showed Deveaux speaking to assistant coach Mikael Gath just prior to the attack. But Gath has said that he knew nothing of Deveaux’s intentions and that Deveaux had simply told him that he was fit to play the game.
Deveaux, who played 31 games in the NHL, has not been in the league since November, 2011 when he was suspended three games for an elbow to the head of Tomas Fleischmann, then of the Florida Panthers. While the NHL acknowledged that there was, “no malicious intent,” on the play, it did judge that Deveaux’s actions were a “dangerous reflex and instinct.”
Deveaux played last season in the KHL before joining Rogle midway through this season when he asked for a tryout. His former agent Resnick said Deveaux might have been able to be a third- or fourth-line center at the NHL level, but was miscast by most teams that saw his size and insist he be a fighter. “He was really intelligent and really sensitive,” Resnick said.