Realty One

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


CALGARY - A civil suit launched by some junior hockey players against the Canadian Hockey League is about to be tested in Alberta.

A hearing to determine if the lawsuit can be certified as a class action is scheduled to start Tuesday in Calgary.

The CHL is the umbrella organization for the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior hockey leagues. It touts itself as the top development league for the NHL. Players range in age from 16 years old to 20.

The lawsuit, filed in Ontario in 2014, claims players have been paid less than the minimum wage required by law in their regions and asks for $180 million in back wages, overtime and vacation pay, as well as punitive damages.

The suit contends the standard agreements players sign pay them as little as $35 per week for between 40 to 65 hours of work.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The CHL contends the players are "amateur student-athletes'' and points to the approximately $6 million it pays out annually in post-secondary scholarships.

Ted Charney, whose Toronto law firm represents the plaintiffs, has said the crux of the lawsuit isn't whether the players are professional or amateur, but whether they are employees of their teams or "independent contractors.''

As of November, a total of 221 players from the OHL and WHL had registered to join the suit should it be certified as a class action.

The WHL's head office is in Calgary. A certification hearing is scheduled for March in Toronto, where the OHL is headquartered.

A similar action has been taken against the QMJHL and its clubs. A certification hearing has not been scheduled.

The CHL has applied to seal financial records, scholarship data and revenue-sharing agreements.

That application will be heard in Calgary prior to the certification hearing, which is scheduled to conclude Friday. It could take several weeks for a decision on certification.

The CHL recently made public a report by KPMG analysts that gives an economic overview of the WHL and OHL. The report doesn't identify which teams make or lose the most money.

The KPMG report states that from 2012 to 2016, the combined pre-tax income of all 22 WHL teams added up to an annual average loss of $213,158, with half of the teams in the league losing money.

At the extreme ends of the scale, one unidentified WHL team's average annual net income was reported to be $1.8 million, while another team was losing an average of $1.5 million per year.

There are more than 1,300 players on 60 privately owned and community-owned CHL teams stretching from Victoria to Halifax, as well as eight teams based in the United States.

(Canadian Press)


Anonymous said...

The players and union suits behind this are simply showing their ignorance and stupidity. Its a privilege, not a right to play in the CHL, no one is forcing these players to pay. Further to that, these players know what they're signing up for prior to entering the draft, if you and your helicopter parents don't like it, opt out for Jr. A and go the NCAA route (oh, and see what that costs you and your folks).

These kids have it all:

- Fantastic education tuition waiting for them at the end of their career

- Travel to and from training camps and Christmas covered by the team.

- The best equipment in the industry including sticks provided to them for free.

- Room and board paid for by the owners/club living in nice neighborhoods with great families.

- School costs and the option to take college courses for overages if desired by the player that doesn't impact their education dollars at the end of their career.

- Support services for education help, religious services by team chaplains if desired as well as most teams bringing in guest speakers to assist with financial planning, public speaking, career options etc.

- Healthcare/rehab costs, all covered by the teams

- Clothing swag - jackets etc that Jr. A team can compete with

- For all but a handful of teams, these players play in fantastic newish facilities that have impeccable locker room situations.

If the minimum wage ruling actual comes to pass you will see the end of many of the small market teams around the nation and there will be no going back.

John Knight said...

If this lawsuit is won, what happens to players who hope to go on and have careers in pro leagues? Most players will never be heard of again. Also, most CHL teams will fold or try charging totally ridiculous admission which will again force teams to fold. This is nothing but a money grab by lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Ok so if the players were to win this lawsuit I guess they would no longer need to be billeted as they could get themselves an apartment. Can't have it both ways boys. Can you imagine the scenarios of some 17 and 18 year old in an apartment? Pretty sure McDonalds does not pay for their employees housing. Plus no more scholarship money as well. Definitely would be the end of Major junior hockey in several smaller places like PA or Swift Current.

Anonymous said...

What do they hope to gain from this action? They will effectively reduce the CHL to 12 teams across Canada. Lawyers being Lawyers I guess.

Ed said...

The league is a meat market and only the top players benefit, scholarships are time limited which makes no sense, once earned it should never be taken away, the "allowance" given to players does not even cover their gas to get to the rink and back. The CHL makes a lot of money on the backs of kids, the kids deserve more than just having the "privilege" of playing on a WHL team. Don't think for a second that what applies to the top 5% of the players applies to the rest....that just isn't reality.

RWAH said...

I agree this is not a plus for either side. The league will shrink and there will be fewer opportunities for players and in all likelihood the education grants after hockey will also stop. However I do think the education grants should remain available for more than two years after the player ages out of the CHL. The player should have more than two years of minor pro hockey before needing to change his path and attend university. This could also force the leagues to consider revenue sharing which would boost small market teams and should help with parity in the leagues.

@mrt_man said...


Anonymous said...

See anon # 1.

Anonymous said...

Good chance you will see a trickle down effect if the CHL has to pay these players. Junior 'A' programs use the same model. So you can kiss those leagues good-bye, almost instantly.

The audacity of people to get behind this lawsuit is appalling.

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of families who would, gladly, keep paying money to give their son a spot in the major junior ranks. Now, the ones who are there say 'no way, pay me'.

Even more entitlement in a sport filled with people who walk through life geting what they want, when they want, how they want.

Anonymous said...

The scholarship program should be available for 5 years. The kids play to get a shot at pro. 5 years gives them enough time to chase the dream.

Anonymous said...

Court ruled against CHL, we get to see Pats financials.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Anon #1

Anonymous said...

Please loose the all caps. Please.

Anonymous said...

Having played in the league I can tell you we all knew what we signed up for. This is a COMPLETE JOKE. Grow up you morons.

Anonymous said...

please stop spelling lose wrong please

Anonymous said...

I would love to find the idiot who failed at hockey and went to a lawyer on this.

I bet 95% of ex players would take this guy out back and thrash him.

What a joke... these kids are living a dream and are creating life opportunity.

Someone got hungry. Dissapointed
In this case. Likely not a western boy. A liberal out east.