Sports OHL Fines IceDogs Organization, Suspends Owner and Coach Indefinitely
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The OHL has laid heavy punishments on the Niagara IceDogs organization following an investigation into the conduct of its minority owners and head coach.
The Ontario Hockey League announced the conclusion of an investigation launched into the Niagara IceDogs' conduct on Wednesday, revealing the findings and leveling severe punishments on the organization and several key members.
The investigation was conducted in response to allegations of inappropriate language used by prominent members of the IceDogs organization in a WhatsApp group chat, with the report filed on March 6, 2022.
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As a result of the findings, the OHL officially revealed that IceDogs Team Governor and minority owner Joey Burke, and head coach and minority owner Billy Burke have both been suspended indefinitely. In addition to their suspensions, both men, along with the IceDogs organization, must pay a combined fine of $150,000.
"Based on the results of the League investigation, it is the position of the League that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the Leagues’ Harassment & Abuse / Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words," the OHL said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Both men will have the opportunity to apply for reinstatement on June, 1, 2024. That application, however, is contingent on the completion of counseling and education to demonstrate the severity of their transgressions and ensure that similar incidents will never happen again.
Billy Burke has served as head coach of the IceDogs since 2017, promoted to the position by his father, Bill, who owns the team with Denise Burke.
IceDogs scandal the tip of the iceberg in problems with hockey culture .
When a hockey player or staff member at the NHL or Major Junior level is involved in an on- or off-ice offence, the first step for most organizations is to release a statement. While these public relations steps are aimed to mitigate the impact on the team, they often fall short in acknowledging the victim or condemning the actions. This week, the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs released a statement in response to profane, homophobic, and misogynistic messages from their general manager, Joey Burke, and head coach, Billy Burke, written in a team WhatsApp group chat.