Sunaya Sapurji

  • OHL ups the ante, makes significant changes to player benefit packages

    Yahoo Sports1 mth ago

    There are new contracts being sent out and signed that will usher in some big, new changes to the Ontario Hockey League.

    Yahoo Canada has learned that the two most significant amendments to its current program for players focuses on the OHL’s education packages and a new monthly reimbursement plan – covering a number of items like gas, clothing and other incidentals like food – for up to $470. OHL commissioner David Branch, said the initiatives were ratified by the league’s board of governors in August and are now being implemented.

    “We are constantly, regularly, always challenging how we can improve things for our players on and off the ice,” Branch told Yahoo Canada on Thursday. “We recognize that they are the most important people in the game.”

    According to Branch, under the new expanded benefits package, players will now have extra time for using the money they receive for post-secondary education. Previously the league had given players 18 months from their last game played to use their school packages. That funding disappeared, however, if the player signed a contract with a National Hockey League or American Hockey League team.

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  • Sarnia's Anthony DeAngelo suspended for slur directed at teammate

    Yahoo Sports2 mths ago

    Sarnia Sting defenceman, Anthony DeAngelo, hasn’t played in two weeks. The last time he saw the ice was during a game against the Guelph Storm on Jan. 31. Up until now, the word had been the talented blueliner had been serving a team suspension issued by head coach Trevor Letowski.

    It’s not the first time a player has been disciplined by a coach and it won’t be the last. The situation, though, has been cloudy with Letowski dancing around why exactly he’s decided to sit the highly touted NHL draft prospect.

    Those clouds parted on Friday, when the Ontario Hockey League announced they had suspended the native of Sewell, N.J., eight games for violating the league’s harrassment, abuse and diversity policy. It's the second time this season the 18-year-old has been suspended for contravening the rule which attempts to keep homophobic, racist, sexist, and the other derogatory language used by small minds – out of the game.

    The minimum suspension for this infraction is five games. Recently, Windsor’s Steven Janes was suspended five games under the same policy. In Janes’ case it was something offensive said to an opponent during a game.

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  • Size matters: Are small towns being pushed to the OHL's fringes?

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago

    There was a time when the small-market franchise was considered the lifeblood of junior hockey. In many cases they were the only game in town. It was a cheap night out and something many families could readily afford.

    Teams were run more like mom-and-pop local stores. In the new OHL landscape, however, more and more franchises are being run like Supercentres in big, state-of-the-art arenas. For some it’s a big, profitable business. For the rest it’s a daily grind to stay in the black and still ice a competitive team.

    No one knows this balance better than the Owen Sound Attack.

    The Attack play in the OHL’s smallest market with roughly 22,000 residents -- though that number almost doubles when you factor in the neighbouring townships. Still, the 3,500-capacity J.D. McArthur Arena is regularly more than 80 per cent full. The team is competitive and won an OHL title in 2011.

    “We have to do things smarter because we’re smaller,” says Attack president and part owner, Dr. Bob Severs. “That’s the challenge … there are several challenges, but the primary challenge is that when you make a decision you don’t have the luxury of being able to make a major error and walk away from that.

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  • Aaron Ekblad, Team Canada's 'man-child,' a pillar of strength on the blueline

    Yahoo Sports3 mths ago

    MALMO, Sweden — Aaron Ekblad stood behind a partition in the media mixed zone and watched intently as teammate Mathew Dumba was being interviewed.

    As it turned out Dumba was talking about Ekblad. The pair are roommates together here with Team Canada, so the blueliners have been able to get to know each other quite well.

    “He has the body of like a 35 or 40-year-old,” said Dumba of the 17-year-old defenceman. “The guy shaves his chest every week. I can’t believe it, he’s a man-child.”

    Standing there, eavesdropping, all Ekblad could do was smile and shake his head. But Dumba wasn’t finished quite yet – there was still more.

    “I don’t know, he’s just a huge human being,” said the defenceman, who spent the first half of the season with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

    “I call him Shrek.”

    The response elicited laughs from reporters.

    It wasn’t long before Ekblad got his turn to speak to the same group of reporters as Dumba moved down the interview line.

    “I’m not sure I like it too much,” said the Barrie Colts blueliner of the ogre-inspired nickname. “I mean I like Shrek, but I don’t think I look like him or anything like that.”

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