CHL, junior teams file motion to seal financial documents

London Knights. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The CHL and member teams in the WHL and OHL have filed a motion to seal the financial documents they have submitted in the civil action initiated by more than 300 former and current players seeking financial compensation—effectively minimum-wage pay or better—for their time in major-junior hockey.

As plaintiffs in the case, the players are seeking court-certification for a class action. The players are represented by the Charney Lawyers, a Toronto-based law firm that specializes in class-action cases.

In October, a judge in an Alberta court ordered the league and the teams in the WHL and the OHL to submit all of their revenue-generating contracts for consideration. (The QMJHL and its teams were not named in the suits filed so far.)

Earlier in the year the plaintiffs in the case entered into evidence projections on franchise valuations, projections compiled by Kevin Mongeon, an assistant professor of sport management at Brock University.

In ordering the league and teams to submit their financial statements and tax returns, the judge did anticipate the defendants’ application for sealing the documents. The judge said he would rule on the matter of sealing only after the league and the teams complied.

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In their court filing, the WHL and its teams’ owners wrote: “The defendants’ financial information was collected and prepared on a confidential basis with the intent of maintaining it as such. The financial information is commercially sensitive, and disclosure will contravene the by-laws of the WHL and the OHL, which require that financial information be kept confidential. The defendants will be harmed if the financial information is disclosed and there is no benefit to permitting broad access to it. Disclosure of this confidential financial information will undermine future negotiations between teams and local vendors, operators, and suppliers.”

The plaintiffs oppose the defendants’ sealing motion. If the players’ side prevails on this count, the CHL’s financials will be made public.

According to reports from TSN.ca, the court in Calgary will hear arguments from both sides on Jan 24.