On Friday afternoon, the Ontario Hockey League announced fines and sanctions against the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club totaling in the amount of $400,000 and the taking away of three 1st round draft picks and two 2nd round draft picks. (OHL Press Release)
“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. While the penalties may appear to be severe, the League and its Member Teams recognize for any such violations of our Recruitment / Benefit Rules and Policies, we must send a strong message to preserve the integrity of our League”, concluded Branch.
There are a few things to take in account here. First, there were two separate investigations looking into this allegation. Secondly, the investigation was started back in 2010. One has to think the league took their time to examine this and make sure there was no doubt before announcing this. Normally the maximum fine is $250,000, but the league states that this was not just a single instance, but happened a number of times.
How many times? The league won’t say. What players were involved? The league won’t say.
Windsor denied the “allegations” and said they will be appealing the decision. (CTV Sports Extra)
We are in receipt of the decision by the Ontario Hockey League regarding the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club and completely deny all accusations that have been put forward.
It is the team’s position that there is no evidence to support this decision, nor did the league follow due process or its own rules regarding procedural fairness in the making of this decision.
We will pursue all avenues of appeal regarding the decision made by the Commissioner, David Branch.
We are proud members of the Ontario Hockey League and will be vigorously defending the well-deserved and established reputation of our hockey club as an exemplary organization both on and off the ice, through the appropriate appeal process.
We will have no further comment until the appeal process is complete, in which we are confident will result in this decision being overturned.
This is a big hit to Windsor, and if true, might see the team losing the bid to host the 2014 Mastercard Memorial Cup.