Early this week, the Ontario Hockey League announced they have fined the Windsor Spitfire for a total of $400,000, along with stripping the team of three first round and two second round draft picks for their recruitment voilations. First round picks will be surrendered by the team in 2013, 2014, and 2016, while second round picks will be lost in 2015 and 2017.
The fine, which is the largest ever handed out by the OHL, was brought on by two separate investigations by the league’s director of security and enforcement. Each investigation determined that the Spitfire voilated the OHL’s player benefit and recruitment policies.
In 2010, only a year after commissioner David Branch and the OHL’s Board of Governors created the new rules and policies, a complaint was made against the Spitfire by a source which Branch would not confirm. The first investigation began soon after the complaint was made, with the large fine coming as surprise to some – especially the Spitfire themselves.
“There is no evidence to support this decision,” the Spitfire said in a statement to the media. “We will pursue all avenues of appeal regarding the decision,” they added.
Despite the big news, Branch has been able to keep things quiet around the league. While the OHL Board of Governors have been holding their meetings in Niagara, several of the owners have taken a “no comment” approach to the situation. With the appeal process moving forward by the Spitfire, it is understandable that they do so.
In regards to the appeal, however, commissioner Branch still expects the Spitfire to adhere to the fine and pay the $400,000 they owe. Reversal through the appeal process, will get the team their money back and allow them to keep their future draft picks as well.
While this news does not have any direct effect on the Windsor Spitfire hosting the Memorial Cup in 2014 as they desire to, it is still possible they could lose out to another team. One of the requirements as noted by the OHL is that the host team must be a championship contender. That is all still possible with the Spitfire, but losing two top draft picks could certainly hinder that.