Canadian Hockey League denies player pay accusations
Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque speaks during an interview following a skating practice session in Ste-Julie, Que., near Montreal, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Published Saturday, October 27, 2012 8:49AM EDT
TORONTO -- The NHL isn't the only hockey league dealing with labour issues.
The Canadian Hockey League Players' Association, which says it represents junior A players, has threatened to sue the Ontario Hockey League over what it says are violations of "minimum legislative employment standards."
The CHLPA charges that players aren't paid minimum wage, overtime, vacation or severance pay. The CHLPA has also made similar complaints in Nova Scotia in reference to the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads.
The Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization for the OHL, WHL and QMJHL, fired back Friday afternoon.
"We firmly believe that our teams have always acted in accordance with all applicable provincial and federal laws and will continue to do so," the CHL said in a statement.
Junior A players in Canada are currently paid a small weekly stipend.
The CHL said the estimated investment for each player is $35,000 to $40,000 annually, which includes an education program and other benefits.
The statement came after former NHLer Georges Laraque, the executive director of the Canadian Hockey League Players' Association, said in a radio interview Friday that team owners have been intimidating players.
"There's owners that have been threatening the players if they join the union," Laraque told Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto. "We have letters, we have videos. We have all type of stuff."
When asked to name names, Laraque said he couldn't because "it's all going to go to court."
The CHL said it "vehemently disagrees with the recent allegations made by Georges Laraque on behalf of the Canadian Hockey League Players' Association."
The league added: "Mr. Laraque, knows better than anyone, the investment that we make in each of our players and our commitment to ensuring that the player's amateur hockey experience is maximized."
CHL commissioner Dave Branch has questioned who is behind the CHLPA. Laraque said players on the CHLPA's executive board are making the decisions but he wouldn't say how may players are on the board.
Also, the Medicine Hat News reports that the Alberta Labour Relations Board rejected an application to hold an immediate certification vote to form a union for Western Hockey League players, but a vote can proceed in early December.
Under Alberta labour regulations, unions have to wait 60 days from the day the union is recognized before they can make certification applications.
The CHLPA had applied to waive that period stating that they are concerned about reprisals against players during the organizing period.
The waiting period is specific to Alberta only.
The WHL head office told the Medicine Hat News that no statement would be made about the ruling and directed all inquires to the CHL.