Unsealed documents relating to the financial statements of OHL and WHL teams were made available in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary on Monday.
Justice Robert Hall had ordered the teams to file statements with the court, then he chose to unseal them.
It’s all part of an attempt by more than 400 former and present CHL players to gain certification for a class-action lawsuit that asks that major junior teams be ordered to pay minimum wage and other benefits.
There are 42 teams in the OHL (20) and WHL (22) and 41 of them presented financial statements and tax returns to the court, as requested. TSN senior reporter Rick Westhead reported that only the Portland Winterhawks chose not to “despite a court order to do so.”
Westhead reported that Ted Charney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “said he is not continuing his pursuit of Portland’s finances. It’s unclear whether the judge will sanction the Winterhawks for their failure to produce documents.”
In a report on TSN’s SportsCentre, Westhead revealed that five WHL teams claimed more than $4 million in revenue in fiscal 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016), with three of those reporting a loss.
The Edmonton Oil Kings had revenues of $6.6 million, with a $1.4-million profit. The Kelowna Rockets, with $4.7 million in revenues, had a profit of $185,216.
The Red Deer Rebels, who showed revenues of $4.5 million, reported a loss of $1,245. The Calgary Hitmen, with revenues of $4.3 million, claimed a loss of $387,333. The Vancouver Giants reported revenues of $4.3 million and a loss of $725,0414.
In a story on TSN’s website, Westhead reported the Seattle Thunderbirds led the WHL for that fiscal period with Cdn$7.3 million in revenues. It’s not know whether they reported a profit or a loss.
However, there seems to be little in the way of specific information available on the expenses of any of the WHL teams.
The Rebels, for example, paid out $1.5 million in management fees while reporting that $1,245 loss. There is no information available as to what constitutes management fees or to whom those fees were paid.
In the OHL, Westhead reports, the Niagara IceDogs “paid $300,000 in dividends to their owners in 2016 and spent $649,688 on wages and benefits for their hockey department, the team reported. Another $415,980 was spent on wages and benefits for other club staff. The statements, however, do not disclose the names of the team’s employees or their salaries.”
After going over the IceDogs’ statements, Nick Angellotti of Toronto-based Williams & Partners Forensic Accountants Inc., told Westhead:
“One question is how much of those wages and benefits went to the owner or other people close to the owner and what did they do to earn that money.
“The owner of a company like this has absolute discretion. They can pay themselves and others whatever they want. I wouldn’t say there’s no accountability; I would say there’s no disclosure of who got paid what.”
Al Rosen of Rosen & Associates Ltd., another forensic accounting firm from Toronto, looked at the London Knights’ statements, then told Westhead:
“It’s impossible to learn anything meaningful from the Knights’ records. They’re useless. They bundle everything into revenue without any explanations. We have no clue what they are including as revenue, and what they are not.”
It seems that most teams don’t have their books undergo a forensic audit, likely for financial reasons.
“Without an audit, it’s impossible for these teams to rely on these statements as evidence that they can’t pay players,” Rosen told Westhead. “There’s no way to tell where any of the money is going.”
Westhead’s complete story is right here.
A LOOK AT THE WHL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS . . .
The Everett Silvertips lead the conference by one point over the Prince George Cougars and hold three games in hand. In the U.S. Division, Everett is one point ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds with two games in hand. . . . Right now, you’re looking at Everett meeting the Portland Winterhawks, who hold down the second-wild card spot, in the first round, while Prince George would get the Victoria Royals. . . . The 2-3 match-ups would have the Kamloops Blazers meeting the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle going against the Tri-City Americans.
NOTES: This conference is far from settled. Prince George holds a five-point lead over Kamloops, with each team having eight games remaining. They will meet four times, starting with a Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Prince George. . . . Seattle beat visiting Everett 6-1 on Sunday to get within one point of the Silvertips. They will clash twice more this season. . . . Portland, with 10 games left, is seven points behind Victoria in the wild-card race and trails third-place Tri-City by 11 in the U.S. Division. It will be tough for the Winterhawks to move up, but they do play three in a row against the Vancouver Giants this week. The Giants will miss the playoffs for a third straight season. . . . The Spokane Chiefs are nine points out of a playoff spot with 11 games remaining, so they’re up against it.
The Regina Pats lead the conference by seven points over the Medicine Hat Tigers and have two games in hand. The Pats have a hectic schedule and have been choosing rest over practices. . . . Regina appears headed for a first-round meeting with Calgary or Saskatoon, the Hitmen holding a two-point edge on the Blades with a game in hand. . . . The Tigers lead the Central Division by six points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have a game in hand. They’ll go home-and-home to close out the regular season. . . . But right now it’s looking like the Tigers will draw the defending-champion Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round. The Wheat Kings will play their first-round home games in Dauphin with the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair taking over the Keystone Centre complex. . . . That would put Lethbridge against Red Deer or Calgary — the Rebels are third, four points ahead of the Hitmen, who have two games in hand. They only will play each other once more, that on March 15 in Red Deer. If it comes down to the final weekend, Calgary goes home-and-home with the Kootenay Ice, while Red Deer does the same with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Neither the Ice nor Oil Kings will qualify for the playoffs. The Oil Kings haven’t been mathematically eliminated, but they have lost six straight (0-5-1) and are 11 points behind Saskatoon. . . . In the East Division, the second-place Moose Jaw Warriors are headed for a first-round clash with the third-place Swift Current Broncos. The Warriors hold a 3-1-0 edge in the season series and have outscored the Broncos, 13-11. They will finish the regular-season with a home-and-home series.
The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders fired Erik Petersen, their general manager and head coach, on Monday. Petersen was in his fourth season as GM/head coach of the team that is based in Swan River, Man. Before taking over the Stampeders, the native of Dauphin, Man., had played for Herning IK in Denmark; he also coached in Denmark for 10 seasons, a lot of it at the national junior team level. . . . The Stampeders were 19-33-5 and in eighth-place in the 11-team league when the move was made. . . . Assistant coach Darren Webster has taken over as interim head. . . . Petersen is the father of G Lasse Petersen, who is with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.
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No Games Scheduled.
TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):
Lethbridge at Regina, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
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