Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo has announced that he has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and it’s leagues on behalf of the underage players who have suffered from violent hazing, physical and sexual assault, and sexual trauma while playing Major Junior Hockey.
The CHL is made up of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Carcillo alleges that he was personally abused while playing for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting in 2002-03. Teammates have corroborated his story. He’s joined in the lawsuit by Garrett Taylor, who played with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2008-09 and also alleges abuse.
The class action alleges that “the leagues and the teams were entrusted with the care of these minors and were negligent and breached fiduciary duties owed to them.”
“This case is on behalf of underage minors who suffered violent hazing, physical and sexual assault and psychological trauma while playing major junior hockey,” Carcillo said. “I was one of those kids when I played in the OHL. I know there are many more just like me.
“I believe this case will give those who were abused a chance to be heard. In my experience, sharing stories of abuse is part of the healing process. It allows a person to take the power back.”
“I also believe that this lawsuit will create real positive change in Canadian junior hockey. This type of abuse has nothing to do with the sport and it needs to stop.”
James Sayce, a partner at Koskie Minsky, the law firm working with Carcillo, also commented on the lawsuit, “Hockey is a part of Canada’s national identity. However, this type of physical and sexual abuse of minors has no place in the game. It is toxic, destructive and degrading.”
Carcillo spent nine seasons in the NHL, playing for the Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, and the New York Rangers. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015, he retired from hockey and has become an active voice on the subjects of concussions in hockey, mental health, and the abuse that happens in the game, especially in hazing.
Announcement Comes Days After Eric Guest Speaks Out
This announcement comes just days after former Kitchener Ranger Eric Guest shared that in 2016-17, an older, unnamed player on the team locked him and a fellow rookie in a bathroom and forced them to use cocaine. Guest said that because he is no longer looking towards a career in the NHL, he will be speaking out and sharing his experiences in the OHL.
“I would never say anything along these lines while I was still playing,” Guest said. “Because you can’t. If I said something or talked about some of this stuff, any chance I had at playing professional hockey is over instantly,”
The OHL and the Rangers have since put out statements, with the team sharing that they have contacted the Waterloo Regional Police Service to investigate this matter.
Guest will continue to share his experiences with hazing and abuse on top of his history with injuries and concussions.
CHL Class Action Comes One Month After Settlement
Class action lawsuits are not new for the CHL, as this one comes just one month after the league settled a six-year case over its league’s players being paid minimum wage. The league was facing $180 million in the original lawsuit for back pay, overtime, and vacation but settled at $30 million.
Starting in 2014, by 2016, the case had over 400 players registered to join. Since the lawsuit, many provinces changed the definition of these players to “amateur athletes” rather than “employees.”
There’s also a case that was filed in January 2019, where a former Kelowna Rockets player claims that the CHL, WHL, and Hockey Canada didn’t properly protect him from head trauma.
That case is still ongoing in the British Columbia Supreme Court.