The Ontario Hockey League has chosen to fine the Niagara IceDogs $250,000 dollars and has stripped the club of its first round draft picks in 2019 and 2021. This is due to the IceDogs violating player recruitment policies. The league did not announce what the violation was but says it came to light after a third part investigation discovered the recruitment violation.
League Commissioner David Branch said in a statement that "The League takes out commitment to our players and their player experience very seriously, which includes ensuring a fair and competitive on-ice experience among all teams." He went on to say "In order to maintain the integrity of this player experience and competitiveness in the league, it is critical that all clubs operate within the league recruitment guidelines. When a club ignores these guidelines, significant sanctions are required."
In an official statement regarding the sanctions (which the IceDogs released on twitter) the team stated all the current IceDogs players and the current hockey operations staff have no involvement with the sanctions addressed by the league. They stated their intent to file an appeal and had no further comment.
This is not the first time a Canadian Major Junior League team has gotten in trouble for player recruitment violations. The Windsor Spitfires were fined $400,000 dollars and stripped of five draft picks in 2012. The fine was dropped to $250,000 and they only lost four picks after the team met with the league and accepted the violations.
In November 2012 the Portland Winterhawks were fined by the Western Hockey League for player recruitment violations that had occurred over the course of four years. They lost picks from the first five rounds of the 2013 draft. They also forfeited their first round picks from the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 drafts. They were fined $200,000 dollars and their General Manager/Head Coach Mike Johnston was suspended for the rest of that season including the 2013 playoffs.
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