Expulsion of Okotoks Raiders would threaten Alberta’s participation in Minto Cup


While no one in Alberta will discuss the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League’s pending decision on whether to expel the Okotoks Raiders from their Junior A league, Ontario Jr A Commissioner Dean McLeod has no compunctions about making his league’s view clear. “I don’t care how they run their league. That’s their business,” McLeod told IL Indoor. “But when their business and policies and sanctions that they put on teams affects the Minto Cup it then becomes my business. That’s why we delved into it and basically told them, if you expel one team we’re not going to be playing you in the Minto Cup and I will fight that to the end.”

McLeod confirmed that he sent an email to Alberta Lacrosse (the RMLL’s provincial governing body) to make Ontario’s position clear. In that message (which IL Indoor obtained, although not from McLeod) he wrote, “As Commissioner of Junior A lacrosse here in Ontario for the past 31 years I can frankly tell you that I have never heard of anything like this happening. It is wrong.”

McLeod related to IL Indoor the story of having trouble with a team in Ontario that was behaving in a renegade fashion. After meeting with league governors, he sent the team a letter informing them of sanctions being place on the team, including a $10,000 performance bond (the team had to give the league the money, which would be returned after a period of compliance or surrendered in the case of continued non-compliance). “I put that on for five years and it brought them around and they were a good citizen after that. That’s what I suggested [Alberta] do with [Okotoks]. You can’t throw a team out of the league because you don’t like what they’re doing.”

The RMLL has not reached a decision the proposal to expel the Raiders that was put forward by the league’s other teams. A meeting was held Tuesday night. RMLL representatives told IL Indoor that they would not discuss the issue while a written decision is being worked on and said once that happens they will “then determine to what extent further disclosure is in the best interests of Alberta Lacrosse.” In the mean time, all parties involved in the situation have been placed under a gag order.

The timing of the RMLL’s actions makes the situation all the more sensitive because a new Minto Cup agreement needs to be completed in the next few months. The old agreement, which saw a tournament with the provincial champions from Ontario, BC and Alberta joining the host club in a four-team format, expired this year and has not been renewed.

McLeod pointed out that the four-team format has not been successful financially and expressed concern about the cost to his teams to take part in the Minto Cup. There has been a movement in the lacrosse world to return to a best-of-seven Minto final between the Ontario and BC champs.

If Okotoks is expelled from the RMLL, that movement would be likely to find fruition according to McLeod. “I’m doing what I think is the best for Ontario Jr A lacrosse and Minto Cup lacrosse and if they think that they’re going to compete with a three-team league and come to the Minto Cup, they’re wrong,” he stated.

McLeod also pointed out that the process the RMLL is following in attempting to eject the Raiders is flawed because it is looking back at old incidents and concerns. “The charges they’re charging them with go back four, five, six, seven years,” he said. “You can’t do that. If that’s the way that they want to operate I’m not sure that we want to be a partner with them.”

There is no word on when a decision will be announced. IL Indoor will continue to bring you the latest developments in this and all matters that affect Junior A lacrosse.

Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer. He can be reached at stamplax@hotmail.com.

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