The Kitchener Rangers — the OHL club holding junior rights to Winnipeg first-rounder Jacob Trouba — are suing the Michigan Daily student newspaper over a report the Rangers offered to pay Trouba to play for them next season.
The Daily claimed that Trouba, a University of Michigan recruit, had been offered $200,000 to play with the Rangers next year rather than the Wolverines. The $200,000 was allegedly in lieu of an education package.
Kitchener CEO Steve Bienkowski says the allegations are false and has filed suit against the paper.
“It’s not a threat anymore,” Bienkowski said. “We served the newspaper and the writer there to either back it up or retract it.”
Here’s more, courtesy the Guelph Mercury:
Trouba has said multiple times that he intends to honour his NCAA commitment. His family released a statement in light of the Daily story denying “any insinuation that the Kitchener Rangers have offered a financial package to Jacob.”
The 18-year-old was selected ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in last month’s NHL draft. If the blueliner, who is currently at the Jets’ rookie development camp, inks a pro deal, it will nullify his NCAA eligibility.
Bienkowski vehemently denied the claims made by the Daily and said he couldn’t hide that kind of a transaction, even if he wanted to.
“We present our audited financial statements every year,” he said. “We don’t have subsidiary companies or other businesses.”
The Daily cited an unnamed source in the Trouba story and, when asked for comment, editor-in-chief Jacob Axelrad declined. (Of note, the story is still on the paper’s website.)
Bienkowski feels the damage to his organization is already done.
“By people out there saying whatever the hell they want, with not having to back it up and hiding behind sources, that damaged us,” he said. “I don’t take it personal but it’s frustrating. You work pretty hard to build what we think is an outstanding reputation in the CHL and then you have all this sort of stuff.”