OHL Erie Otters, in dispute with Oilers, file for bankruptcy

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On the ice this has been a great campaign for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. They had a 50-14-2-2 regular season record and are led by two of the most desirable players in the upcoming 2015 NHL Entry Draft – Dylan Strome and, of course, Connor McDavid.

At the same time though, they’ve been in a fight with the Edmonton Oilers and on Wednesday, the Otters announced that they had filed for bankruptcy, per the Erie Times-News.

“This will have absolutely no effect on Otters playoff games, on our staff, on our players, or any of our hockey or business operations,” owner Sherry Bassin said. “The Erie Otters Hockey Club has a strong and fundamentally sound underlying business. The team, the Ontario Hockey League and our corporate partners will be fully protected during this process.

“Today’s filing provides us with the opportunity to continue to execute our business plan on a stronger footing, maintain normal operations of the hockey club as it fights toward an OHL championship, and smoothly continue the ongoing sale process. All of our efforts are focused on concluding this process in an efficient and successful manner.”

The Oilers claim they gave $4.6 million in loans to Bassin while Edmonton was attempting to purchase the team. It’s worth noting at this point that there was a report back in January claiming Oilers owner Darryl Katz was interested in the Otters so that they could be moved to Hamilton in order to “take control of his ultimate prize – the hockey lease at Copps Coliseum.” The theory is that would have allowed him to threaten to move the Oilers to Hamilton during his fight to get funding for a new Edmonton arena.

Edmonton’s attempt to purchase the Otters fell through and the Oilers sued, but the case was dismissed in December. Now the Otters are claiming that Edmonton, through the subsidiary Ontario Major Junior Hockey Corp., has announced plans to hold a private sale of the Otters’ assets. The decision to file for bankruptcy is in response to that.

“The filing of the Chapter 11 petition automatically stays any actions of OMJHC against the assets of Erie Hockey Club,” per the Otters’ statement. “It is Erie Hockey Club’s intention to conclude the sale process in Chapter 11, which will allow the sale to proceed in an orderly manner and without interference by OMJHC.”