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WHL notes: Class action lawsuit seeks compensation for major junior hockey players

A class action lawsuit filed in a Toronto court Friday seeks $180 million in compensation from the Canadian Hockey League and its 60 teams in three regional leagues that “conspired” to force thousands of young players into signing contracts that breach minimum wage laws.

The lawsuit includes the Western Hockey League and teams such as the Spokane Chiefs.

The statement of claim seeks $180 million in outstanding wages, vacation, holiday and overtime pay, and employer payroll contributions for players given as little as $35 a week for practices, games, training and traveling that could add up to more than full-time hours, according to the Toronto Star.

Any allegations have not been proven in court.

David Branch, president of the CHL, told the Star that the league “will vigorously defend the way our teams operate.”

“Our position is our players are amateur student-athletes and we provide the best playing experience to our 1,300 players,” Branch said. … “It’s important that we defend this because it could have a huge impact on all amateur sport in this country.”

All major junior teams have been told not to address the lawsuit.

Proud Americans

One season after finishing in last place in the U.S. Division, the Tri-City Americans are on top of the division and savoring a special weekend.

The Americans defeated Everett 5-4 in a shootout on Friday and ended Kelowna’s perfect season (10-0) with a 5-2 victory on Saturday.

Tri-City (8-4-0-0, 16 points) leads the division by one point over Everett (6-0-2-1, 15).

Two of the Americans’ losses have been to the third-place Spokane Chiefs (4-2-3-0, 11).

“The belief that you’re developing, that you’re getting better and stronger is so, so important at this level,” Americans general manager Bob Tory told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Tri-City will play at Kelowna tonight.

Around the league

The Red Deer Rebels, hoping to boost a power-play game that ranks 18th in the league, acquired 18-year-old winger Tyler Sandhu from the Everett Silvertips on Monday for two picks in upcoming bantam drafts. Sandhu scored 32 goals in his first two WHL seasons. He’ll be in the lineup Friday against visiting Prince George. … Saskatoon’s Cameron Hebig scored his first point of the season last Saturday in the Blades’ 10th game. The 17-year-old center had 26 points in 67 games last season. … Regina left winger Morgan Klimchuk returned to the lineup Saturday after missing three-plus weeks with a wrist injury and scored in a 6-1 win over Lethbridge. … Victoria Royals 18-year-old defenseman Joe Hicketts was named WHL Player of the Week after totaling six assists and one goal during four road games. Payton Lee of the Vancouver Giants, also 18, was named WHL Goaltender of the Week after winning both of his starts, allowing just one goal on 50 shots.

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