The Canadian Hockey League is facing a pair of lawsuits that could forever change the face of major junior hockey as we know it.
As written up by Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star, The CHL is facing a class action lawsuit:
An unprecedented class
action lawsuit striking at the economic foundations of junior hockey in
Canada alleges the Canadian Hockey League and its teams “conspired” to
force young players into signing contracts that breach minimum wage
A statement of claim
filed in a Toronto court Friday and obtained by the Star, seeks $180
million in outstanding wages, vacation, holiday and overtime pay and
employer payroll contributions for thousands of young players given as
little as $35 a week for practices, games, training and travelling that
could add up to more than full-time hours.
The second lawsuit comes from a former CHL goalie named John Chartrand who appeared in 61 OHL games over the course of three season. As detailed by TSN's Rick Westhead, Chartrand is seeking $12M from the OHL's Barrie Colts for whom he played his first 16 OHL games for from 2009-2011.
The league and its
teams “conspired and agreed together . . . to act in concert to demand
or require that all players sign a contract which the defendants knew
was unlawful,” the claim alleges. “Such conduct was high-handed,
outrageous, reckless, wanton, deliberate, callous, disgraceful, wilful
and in complete disregard for the rights of the (players).”
John Chartrand is suing his former team for $12 million, alleging in
court documents that Colts medical and team officials cleared him to
play in games mere days after he was in a violent car accident that
required him to be hospitalized.
I highly recommend reading both stories before proceeding with the rest of this blog entry.
Yesterday on The Pipeline Show, Dean Millard and I invited TSN Legal Analyst Eric Macramalla to come on an go through the lawsuits from his expert perspective. We wanted to know if either case will stand up and if so, what the ramifications for Major Junior hockey and beyond might be. Certainly the CHL won't be the only level of competitive hockey affected and is it possible that other team sports might fall under the same umbrella should players moving forward be classified as "employees"?
That's after the jump.