Did you hear the one about a semi-rich hockey parent that sponsored, or even bought, a junior hockey team so the son gets an automatic spot on the team?
We’ve seen that at every level of the North American junior hockey system. Yes, we have seen this story before, so what I’m about to say may read like a broken record.
Today’s story has a few more than interesting twists that make it especially interesting.
During the off-season, the team owner allowed the coach to bring in a number of specialized players to help give the club a competitive edge against the rest of the league. Some of those players signed agreements that cost their families substantially less than most.
Before agreeing to a trade from a Canadian Jr. “A” club, an import player was offered an agreement to pay a low fee instead of billeting costs for the season. Once the trade was finalized, that player, along with three others (including the owner’s son), lived in a house that was rented by the team owner.
The owner lived at that house part-time and did a fairly good job of taking care of the boys that were there. The house quickly became THE house the team would socially gather at, much to the delight of the owner and his player son.
One night, after such a gathering, an unknown guest managed to hit and damaged the garage door with his (or her) vehicle. The team owner proceeded to blame the occupants of the house and expected a payment ($750) from those families to cover the damage costs to the door.
“Not so fast”, I advised the client. He leased the house, the kids are not responsible for such issues, especially a player that does not even have a car in Canada. After the parent told the team owner about the conversation with me, the owner lost his composure.
These emails are priceless.
FROM PARENT (after getting an invoice from team for $750): I was a little surprised when I received this after we discussed not pursuing it over the Christmas break. I think before going down this route, I should probably discuss it with our advisor, Mr. Heisler, as I generally don’t make significant hockey decisions without first seeking his advice.
FROM OWNER: I explained very clearly that the damage deposit was going to be split between all 4 boys. It was their responsibility to take care of the home I had leased for them. They were guests in MY HOUSE!!
You agreed to take care of the damage deposit share and to send you an Invoice during our conversation...why else would you receive this? Both of the other two parents understood the situation, and have no issue with paying their share of their damage deposit.
Secondly, if you have the funds to cover a "Hockey Advisor"...I have now reevaluate the Billeting Subsidy that was provided especially in lieu of your response below. I will require the full $750.00 to be paid by Credit Card by this Friday. Thirdly, these funds will now be in US Dollars to cover all the "extras" I have provided... that were above the room and board, covered under "free" billeting. Fourthly, our Agreement was only for the Season...not the playoffs. I will be billing you the standard monthly $550 for billeting starting February 22/2019.
I guess you have a lot more to discuss with your Advisor now. Please forward your preferred credit card information asap....as I would hate for this financial disagreement to affect your son's hockey. If this is not acceptable, I will place him in a Billet home and you can handle that payment directly with them.
FROM PARENT: My previous email obviously upset you, which was not my intent, and if I’ve offended you, I apologize.
As we discussed on the phone, aside from the fact that my son did not cause the damage, we cannot afford to this. Nor can we afford any other extra charges.
I truly hope you understand our situation and we can work to resolve this.
FROM OWNER: I was fully aware of the US government strike. However, indicating that you need to speak with Mr. Heisler regarding your hockey decisions has absolutely nothing to do with this damage deposit. How exactly is Mr. Heisler going to advise you to pay the $750?
Although I understand your financial situation, the fact that this team is losing money concerns nobody but me. These losses are partially due to the free billeting you have received from day 1...which has saved you over $2500 to date. Asking for $750...is fair and reasonable. Maybe use the money you pay Mr. Heisler to pay this damage deposit. Either way, empathy is a two-way street.
As stated earlier, please provide a credit card as soon as possible to cover the invoice. I am willing to split it into 3 x $250 USD payments. Paying this Invoice and the extra costs incurred are no longer negotiable.
The run-in over the house damage was just the tip of the iceberg. Other issues included the cancellation of team bus travel and other issues. It’s unclear if the coach has been paid, rumor has it that he has gone months without a check. That’s unverified.
As the season progressed, and reality of the costs of operating the team became clear, the owner's strange behavior plagued the team. The financial issues could be worse than imagined, leaving the fate of the team in doubt.
We’ve heard about pending league action as well, let’s just assume that the league will find this article to be very interesting.
Who is the tool of a team owner? Amar Grewal of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s Kerry Park Islanders.
Let the bodies hit the floor.
**A LETTER WAS SENT TO THE VIJHL FROM THE PARENT…IT’S A GOOD ONE. THERE’S A CHANCE THAT WILL BE TOMORROW’S DISH.**