Last update for a few weeks as I’m leaving town tomorrow en route to Florida to get hitched next weekend. But before I go, a huge shout out to OHL commissioner David Branch for dropping the bomb on the Windsor Spitfires as an early wedding gift!
If you haven’t been following Twitter today, the OHL commish dropped the hammer on the Windsor Spitfires, fining the organization $400,000, three 1st round draft selections, and two 2nd round draft selections for violation of the League’s Player Benefit and Recruitment Rules and Policies. You know, that thing the NCAA has claimed has been going on for many years, while OHL supporters have dismissed it all as fantasy and coaches bitter over losing top players. #FreeSlovin
Per the OHL:
“In 2009 the Board of Governors of the Ontario Hockey League developed the OHL ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM which is designed to address and attempt to eliminate violations of the RULES and impose appropriate penalties if violations occur.
The enforcement process is an integral part of the process to ensure integrity and fair play among the MEMBER TEAMS. One of the fundamental principles of the enforcement process is to ensure that those MEMBER TEAMS that are abiding by the rules are not disadvantaged by their commitment to compliance”, stated OHL Commissioner David Branch. “The League conducted two separate investigations led by our Director of Security and Enforcement, and in considering all the facts, I was persuaded that the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club violated the League’s Player Benefit and Recruitment Rules and Policies.
Apparently we are to be impressed with the OHL’s use of all caps to remind us they have an ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM and RULES. I’m surprised they didn’t put them in bold, too.
Mr. Branch said this violation involved more than one player, and the investigation has been ongoing since 2010. The Spits have managed to flip more than a few NCAA commits over the past several years, including one time high profile Michigan goalie commit Jack Campbell, and there’s a lot of speculation as to who this involves since no names are named. The Spits deny any wrongdoing and plan to
sue file an appeal. #FreeSlovin
Sportnet’s Patrick King has a great write up on the situation that I recommend reading.
The league’s policy has been made clear to member teams, but it had previously been viewed as somewhat similar to a soft salary cap. Teams were able to circumvent some rules and, as one source noted to Sportsnet.ca on Friday, “everybody was doing it.”
Until the exact circumstances are known in regards to Windsor’s violations, every team is wondering if they could be facing similar sanctions. One source noted there were approximately a handful of other investigations ongoing and Friday’s ruling could simply be the tip of the iceberg.
Yet another unnamed source (#FreeSlovin) saying, “everybody was doing it.” Well, everybody but Kitchener, of course. I expect King to receive his defamation papers soon. Actually, Branch said they investigated the Kitchener/Trouba claims and found nothing. So they spent two years investigating Windsor, but like two minutes on Kitchener? Granted, Trouba never jumped ship, and for all we know there may not have been an offer or maybe it was a verbal offer, in which case parties can easily deny it and there’s no paper trail. Obviously, there was some sort of trail in Windsor.
“On the Trouba matter we instructed (Miller) to investigate, which he did fully,” said Branch. “His report and recommendation was that there was no substance at all to the allegations, so that matter is closed. Kitchener, as I understand it, is still pursuing some legal remedies because of the concerns over such damaging statements.”
It will be interesting to see where this goes from here, especially since King’s source said other investigations are ongoing. As Jim Ross would say, business just picked up. So grab that box of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show!