In one of the stiffest punishments in league history, the OHL has come down heavy on the Windsor Spitfires.
The Spits have been fined $400,000 and stripped of five draft picks — three first-rounders and two second-rounders — for recruitment and player benefit violations.
The fine is the biggest ever levied by the OHL, according to the CBC.
Here’s the official statement from league commissioner David Branch:
In 2009 the Board of Governors of the Ontario Hockey League developed the OHL ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM which is designed to address and attempt to eliminate violations of the RULES and impose appropriate penalties if violations occur. The enforcement process is an integral part of the process to ensure integrity and fair play among the MEMBER TEAMS. One of the fundamental principles of the enforcement process is to ensure that those MEMBER TEAMS that are abiding by the rules are not disadvantaged by their commitment to compliance.
The League conducted two separate investigations led by our Director of Security and Enforcement, and in considering all the facts, I was persuaded that the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club violated the League’s Player Benefit and Recruitment Rules and Policies. While the penalties may appear to be severe, the League and its Member Teams recognize for any such violations of our Recruitment / Benefit Rules and Policies, we must send a strong message to preserve the integrity of our League.
According to the Windsor Star, the OHL did not specify what the Spitfires did to violate said policies and that club officials haven’t responded to the punishment.
Since the OHL Enforcement Program was instituted in 2009, Windsor has churned out a number of high-profile NHL draftees including Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Cam Fowler, Ryan Ellis, Zack Kassian and Austin Watson.