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Former NHL player, Winnipeg councillor Thomas Steen faces assault charge

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WINNIPEG - A National Hockey League fan favourite in Winnipeg who turned to municipal politics is facing charges of assaulting a woman in a restaurant.

Thomas Steen, who has been on Winnipeg city council since 2010, turned himself into police earlier this week and was released on a promise to appear pending a court appearance, fellow councillor Scott Fielding confirmed Wednesday.

Steen did not respond to interview requests about the charges first reported by the Winnipeg Free Press. But he issued a one-line written statement that said he was taking a leave of absence.

"In response to allegations in recent media reports, I would like to advise you that I will be taking some time to deal with a private personal matter," he wrote.

Police would not release details or name Steen, who has yet to be formally charged, but said a 53-year-old man turned himself in on accusations that he last week assaulted a woman he knew in a restaurant.

Fielding chairs the Winnipeg Police Board — a civilian group that includes Steen and oversees the city's police force. Fielding said Wednesday he told Steen that the pending charges disqualify him from participating in board matters.

Fielding would not reveal whether Steen offered any information about the alleged assault or his future.

"I just informed him in my role as chair of the police board and what the (code of conduct) stated, so that's really the extent of what I want to discuss in terms of our conversation."

Steen played his entire NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets as a forward. He racked up 950 games and 264 goals. His No. 25 jersey was hoisted to the rafters of the old Winnipeg Arena in 1995 — the year he stopped playing and one year before the team relocated to Phoenix.

A new version of the team, a relocated Atlanta Thrashers franchise, returned to the city in 2011, one year after Steen won a council seat.

There was no word Wednesday on when Steen might appear in court.

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