Citing the Canadian Competition Act, two former hockey players from the Major Junior circuit have filed a class action lawsuit with the Canadian Federal Court.
The complainants allege that the NHL, AHL, ECHL and the three circuits of the Canadian Major Junior (CHL) have agreed to establish a system that prevents CHL players from freely accessing the professional hockey market.
The Complainants allege that the three major professional leagues in North America and the three Canadian major junior hockey leagues illegally entered into an arrangement that unreasonably limits the opportunities for hockey players between the ages of 18 and 20 to practice their sport professionally.
In concrete terms, hockey players who are members of the three Canadian major junior leagues are generally 16 to 20 years old. The minimum age for NHL draft entry, however, is 18. But if they can’t find a job in NHL, they can’t play in AHL, the second tier of professional hockey, until they are 20 years old.
A CHL player in this situation is therefore forced to practice his sport for two years in the junior ranks for a symbolic compensation of some CAD 70 per week instead of being able to receive a salary between USD 75,000 and USD 125,000 / year in AHL.
The complainants also allege that players under 20 who would like to be released from their junior contract to make the jump to professionals face substantial penalties, even ranging up to USD 500,000.- in WHL.
However, these restrictions do not apply to hockey players drafted by NHL teams, but who come from European sports programs. To be continued.