Corvairs launch appeal of GOJHL ruling
The Caledonia Corvairs of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League have filed an appeal with the Ontario Hockey Association regarding the GOJHL’s decision last week to rescind penalties and fines to the Niagara Falls Canucks.
The GOJHL originally penalized the Canucks for utilizing ineligible players/staff who did not meet the requirements of the GOJHL vaccination policy.
The Canucks were one of five organizations penalized last month and took the biggest hit with the forfeiture of 13 victories and three overtime losses in games from Sept. 24 through Dec. 3. In addition, a member of the Canucks organization was suspended indefinitely and the team fined $4,400.
The GOJHL overturned part of that decision last week.
“Niagara Falls will have all their points returned and their fines rescinded from Sept. 24 until Nov. 22,” GOJHL commissioner Brent Garbutt told BPSN last week. “The membership, that was something they voted on and felt they should have their points returned from when they were first made aware that certain vaccinations did not meet requirements that the league had in place.”
Caledonia general manager Mike Bullard said his organization does not agree with the decision, hence the appeal.
“I talked to my owners and we felt it was an appealable situation,” he said. “The rule came down, it was cut and dry, and everybody agreed, and then all of a sudden it gets changed.
“I understand everybody has to defend their honour but it was cut and dry. The deal was done and you have to pay the consequences. If it was Caledonia they would have roasted us big time. I know that for a fact.”
Bullard felt rescinding the penalties and fines does not reflect well on the GOJHL.
“It’s not good for our league. It’s trying times with COVID. It’s a serious thing and if everybody is playing by the rules . . . what about the other three or four teams that were caught? Nothing has happened to them. They didn’t appeal it.
“Everybody is calling me saying our league is a joke and here we are trying to get junior A.”
OHA Executive Director Dave Leger said he is unable to comment on any specific appeal.
“There is no comment that I would provide,” he said.
Leger did outline the procedure when an appeal is registered with the league.
“If an appeal is filed with the OHA, the OHA reviews and determines whether there is a standing of the appeal and if that still fleshes out, then there is an appeal’s hearing convened and overseen by the OHA’s appeal’s committee,” he said. “There are a number of members that could sit on the committee. Those members’ names are on internal documents.”
GOJHL commissioner Brent Garbutt did not respond to a text message asking for an interview.
Canucks owner Frank Pietrangelo did not wish to speak on record.
“I don’t have anything to say in this regard,” he said. “That team can say whatever they want.
“As I said, the GOJHL made a league decision and the Niagara Falls Canucks agree with the decision that was made by the GOJHL governors.”
Garbutt told BPSN last week 21 of the 25 GOJHL teams voted with a simply majority needed to carry the motion and that some teams did not attend the meeting while others were not in good standing with the league and unable to vote.
The Canucks were not notified until Nov. 22 they did not meet eligibility requirements, Garbutt said.
“By the time we got through all 700-plus vaccinations in November and had our director of hockey operations combing through them multiple times that’s when we had to check with our doctor to make sure whether they were acceptable or not,” Garbutt said.
Garbutt said one member of the Canucks organization and two players did not originally meet the exemption status. One player has since been double vaccinated but the other player and member of the organization have not been double vaccinated or met exemption status and therefore are still ineligible to return.
“Either until they get vaccinated or until they get approval from the league’s medical officer,” Garbutt said, when asked what the individuals in question need in order to return.
The original penalties also had Thorold, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Welland lose games in the standings and have coaches suspended and fined, albeit to a significantly lesser degree.
Garbutt said last week the points will officially be added in the next couple of days once a glitch in the scoring system is fixed. The Canucks currently sit in last place with a 2-23-1 record.
As well, with a new announcement from the provincial government regarding lockdowns, the GOJHL is expected to resume play Monday, Jan. 31, the first day games will be permitted.
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