The Ontario Hockey League is facing a potential nightmare scenario that could see its 17 Ontario-based teams be forced to pay out nearly $200 million in wages and benefits to current and former players. Should that happen, it would almost certainly bankrupt the junior hockey league and force its teams to fold permanently.
The case brought forth by former OHL players Sam Berg and Daniel Pachis was granted certification from Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Prerell earlier today. The case alleges that the OHL knowingly breached provincial employment laws by forcing players to work 40 to 65 hours per week for as little as $35 in pay. The case asserts that minimum wage and vacation pay standards should have been in effect for all OHL players.
The OHL’s stance is that players are not employees, but rather “amateur student-athletes” and simply cannot afford to pay the proposed wages.
Regardless of your personal stance on the issue, it’s clear that this case could have an enormous impact on not only the OHL, but junior hockey at large and, indeed, the entire hockey world. Stay tuned.