(Above: RAMS player Cole Carter slips past Renfrew’s Blair Barr in game four of the series. The RAMS won the series in four straight games clinching the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Valley Division. Photo by Barry Gray. More photos…)
The Junior B hockey team that won the EOJHL’s Valley Division earlier this week is using the Stittsville RAMS name and logo without permission, according to the president of the Stittsville Minor Hockey Association (SMHA).
SMHA president Tim Sheehan says a partnership between the Junior B team and his organization was formally terminated on February 13 due to what he calls “continued breach of agreement and ongoing communication matters”. The team has been told to stop using the logo and brand.
The Junior B team, formerly known as the Stittsville Royals, entered into an agreement last summer to call themselves the RAMS and play in the SMHA’s jerseys. As part of the agreement the Junior B team would take over operation of the canteen at Johnny Leroux Arena for all SMHA games and practices.
The SMHA wanted local midget hockey players (ages 15-17) to have a better opportunity to play at the Junior B level. The agreement was to have lasted three years.
“The Junior B team was not committed to fulfilling certain key obligations of the agreement,” wrote Sheehan in a note to StittsvilleCentral.ca. He says besides poor communication, the SMHA was unhappy with the development of local players, and that the team didn’t operate the canteen at Johnny Leroux Arena for the agreed-upon number of hours.
Steve Kadolph, the owner of the Junior B team, says that they found out the agreement was terminated back in January through an email from Sheehan. The email said that GM/coach Hamish Fraser broke the association’s code of conduct. That communication came after an exchange of emails between Fraser and a scheduling co-ordinator over ice time.
“Hamish was trying to find ice the whole year round,” says Kadolph. “(He) got a little frustrated. From our perspective we didn’t think it was a big deal, but within two minutes of that email Tim sent an extremely poorly-worded email that basically said the agreement’s terminated.”
That email exchange was the culmination of several months of disagreements between the two parties over ice time, team scheduling, player selection, canteen operation, and the condition of jerseys given to the team at the start of the season.
“When I met with them I was clear that in order for this partnership to be successful several players needed to come from Stittsville. We also requested that these Stittsville players be the “face of the organization”, says Sheehan. “In my opinion, Stittsville could have a 100% Jr B team and be very successful.”
Sheehan says that there were “three to six” local players on the roster during the season, but Fraser disputes that number. He says there were at least 11 players from Stittsville, Ashton or Richmond who played for the team during the season. Junior B teams typically include players from the home community plus surrounding areas.
The original agreement called for the canteen to be open evenings and weekends, but Kadolph says there isn’t enough traffic in the arena to justify all those hours. “I believe there was some mis-representation on how the business would be run. We did not make any money on it… If your sales are $3/hour it’s just not worth opening up.” He says his organization invested money in canteen equipment at the start of the season as well.
Sheehan says the SMHA was up front about the cost to operate the canteen, and provided Kadolph’s group with financial information dating back ten years. He says the association received “hundreds” of complaints from parents about the canteen being closed.
Kadolph and Fraser say although they did receive a set of jerseys from the SMHA at the start of the season as per their agreement, the jerseys were incomplete and cost them an additional $1,000 to get them ready to use.
Sheehan says the group was provided with two complete sets of jerseys, and that the $1,000 was the cost to add things like tie-downs required for Junior B, and for adding different numbers to the jerseys.
Sheehan says that the SMHA is “exploring all available options to us to ensure a civil resolution.”
“There’s 1,700 minor hockey players in Stittsville. We’re not going to use our membership’s money to fight something like this,” says Sheehan. “Both parties signed the agreement in good faith and he’s (Kadolph) is not living up to his end of the arrangement.”
In the meantime, the Junior B team intends to keep playing in the Stittsville RAMS jerseys for the rest of the playoffs.
Kadolph says the issue isn’t worth fighting in court. “Next year, the chance of us being the RAMS is extremely low. We’ll probably go back to the Royals.”
“My perspective is we move on. Stittsville Minor Hockey Association is just a political as all the other hockey associations. It’s unfortunate, because what everybody doesn’t realize is that the biggest losers in all the associations are the kids,” says Kadolph.