$ 825 million class action demand alleges the National Hockey League and its affiliated leagues as well as the country’s three major junior circuits (LHJMQ, OHL, WHL) conspired to prevent a ton of young players from chasing their dream to evolve among professionals because of restrictive abusive agreements.
The petition filed in Federal Court by former WHL player Kobe Mohr states that the defendants were involved in “an illegal conspiracy, arrangement or deal that unreasonably limits the opportunities of 18-year-old hockey players. at 20 who wish to practice their sport in a professional league ”. The plaintiffs rely on section 48 of the Canadian Competition Act to succeed.
The plaintiffs want to tackle the scheme that prevents a player with a contract with a junior team from reaching the minor professional ranks before the age of 20 because of the agreement in force between the NHL and the Canadian League.
That excludes drafted players who can make the jump to the NHL as young as 18, but according to the document, thousands of players have been bullied over the past 10 years.
The lawsuit also mentions the “abusive” fees of $ 150,000 to $ 500,000 imposed on players who want to break their junior contract to move to the pros before the legal age.
“The ban on playing in the AHL and ECHL before the age of 20 only applies to Canadian players and that’s quite problematic. This is not the case for Europeans, for example. Hundreds of players have seen their rights and interests violated. The players are prisoners of the Canadian League, ”argued the lawyer in the case, Félix-Antoine Michaud, ready for a long legal battle.
The lawyer of the firm Trivium is also difficult to understand that young people from 16 to 20 years old evolving in the junior ranks are not defended by an association with the bonzes of North American hockey. “The Canadian League signs an agreement that directly concerns the players without consulting them with a formal process of consultations,” he noted.
A judge will have to determine whether the class action request meets the necessary criteria to be dealt with in court. Once this step has been taken, the plaintiffs and defendants will be heard.
Elements to consider
“The competition law allows civil remedies based on this cause, but it must be shown that the behavior [allégué] occured. We must show that the NHL, the AHL and the ECHL have arranged together to block the advancement of the players. The fact that players have had difficult courses and have not had the desired advancement does not mean that there has been a conspiracy, ”a nuance in an interview with Journal Me Vincent de l’Étoile, from Langlois Avocats.
An agent who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity estimates that few players are really equipped to make a living from hockey before the age of 20.
“The reality is, the vast majority of 19-year-olds aren’t ready to live in apartments and be left alone. This is the reality of LAH and ECHL. The junior gives this family balance and is the vehicle that prepares you for professional hockey.
“Is the Canadian League perfect? No, but these players are not ready to go play against men at 19. There may be arguments, but to allege that there is a conspiracy is to be in bad faith, ”he said.