OHL commissioner David BranchLast month, the Windsor Spitfires were fined $400K by the Ontario Hockey League for "violations of [the OHL's] Recruitment / Benefit Rules and Policies". The Spitfires jumped quickly to their own defence, promising to appeal the ruling, a ruling that would also cost the team three first round selections in consecutive OHL priority drafts.
Friday, the OHL relented, settling their case with the Spitfires and reducing the penalties:
During the meeting with the Commissioner the Windsor Spitfires accepted that there were certain violations of the League's Recruitment Policy.
In recognition of the acknowledgement and the cooperation of the Windsor Spitfires, Commissioner Branch modified his earlier decision and the team will pay to the League a payment of $250,000.00 and will lose a first round draft pick in 2013, a second round draft pick in 2015 a first round draft pick in 2016 and a second round draft pick in 2017. [OHL]
Commissioner Branch's heart grew three sizes Friday. It's been a rough offseason for the Spitfires, who took it on the chin over "improper benefits" and the new OHL rule looking to reduce staged fighting probably impacts the Spits the most.
So the team will save $150K and their draft pick penalties aren't as steep. Before, they were slated to lose their firsts in 2013, 2014 and 2015 as well as seconds in 2015 and 2017, but that's been reduced. They'll still lose five picks, but only two of them will be firsts and they'll have a two-year window with consecutive selections.
This is somewhat an admission of guilt on the part of the Spitfires and a big reason why, I can assume, Branch reduced the penalty. A factor is that he probably wants to encourage compliance among the OHL member clubs so that issues regarding improper benefits can finally be solved. After all, it's not just the NCAA that is affected by big market OHL clubs having the financial clout to recruit players—it affects small market OHL teams as well.