Since the MSL announced they would be halting their season a few weeks back, not many thought they would be able to put together a plan for resurrection this year.
The Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA):
The OLA, who is the governing body of lacrosse in the province of Ontario, had continually interfered in the day to day business of the league. The biggest problem being that they didn’t recognize the transfer of the Brampton Excelsiors to Joe Norton. Norton, after three years in Brampton, had decided to move the club to Owen Sound where he also owned a Senior B team, the Bug Juice North Stars. The OLA over stepped their bounds by replacing the “Old” Brampton board of directors with a group of alumni (ELLA) that had no standing in the league (other than being alumni), had paid no OLA dues, but still recognized them as the “New” board of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club.
The Sale Was Not Legal:
The OLA board of directors heard the plea of ELLA, and deemed that the sale to Norton was not legal, and the team needed to be returned to Brampton. The problem was that no one had complained while he was paying the bills keeping the team in Brampton, but only after he announced he was moving them.
Despite the OLA’s directive, the MSL had carried on operations as if the Owen Sound Lacrosse Club would play its first home date at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre on May 28, 2022. On April 18, 2022, the OLA directed the MSL to return the Excelsiors franchise to Brampton or face consequences including a lengthy suspension of commissioner Luey.
On May 10, 2022, an OLA appeal tribunal upheld the provincial governing body’s directive requiring the MSL to return the Brampton Excelsiors major lacrosse franchise to the newly formed BELC headed by Glenn McClelland, while facilitating a seventh MSL franchise to be operated in Owen Sound by Norton.
The Bread and Cheese Game:
The MSL had continued business as usual, preparing for an exhibition game on Six Nations, for the Bread and Cheese festival. The celebration was special to the First Nations people and was to be culminated with the playing of the Creator’s Game to honor the Creator on that day.
The OLA, angered that commissioner Luey and the MSL were ignoring their directive, didn’t assign officials for the game, trying to make a point. According to sources with the Six Nations Chiefs, there were guarantees in an email the previous Friday, that the OLA would allow this game to be played with sanctioned referees. If not for a couple of officials who happened to be in the crowd, the game wouldn’t have taken place at all.
Norton Retained Council:
Joe Norton retained council and issued his own directive. The lawyer’s letter stated Norton acquired “certain inalienable legal rights” in the 2018 transfer of the Excelsiors including the intellectual property and other assets including the rights to the team’s players.
“No decision of the OLA could oblige them to surrender assets that they lawfully acquired in a corporate transaction, and paid for. The OLA can only have jurisdiction over the operations of its leagues. The OLA has no authority to take assets owned by corporations and distribute them to third parties,” Goldblatt writes in the letter. “Were it otherwise, Mr. Norton and MELT (Norton’s company ) would have to be placed back into the position they were in prior to their 2018 acquisition of the Brampton Club. That would require payment to them of over $500,000, representing the costs incurred in acquiring and running the Brampton Club over the past seasons.”
Goldblatt stated Norton retains the rights to the name Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, logos, trademarks, website, social media associated with the team, and all the players rostered to the Brampton club.
“In respect of the players, our expectation is that all of them will play for Mr. Norton’s club in Owen Sound, and if they fail to do so, will be disciplined. We are already aware that players did not show up for a practice last evening,” the letter stated.
Major Series Lacrosse Postpones Their Season:
In a statement on May 26th, commissioner Doug Luey said the “financial risk brought on by potential litigation is just too great to overcome by both our privately and community operated teams.”
“We will continue to work toward a resolution to bring our teams, players, officials and in particular our fans back to the floor as soon as the risk is minimized,” Luey said.
On June 7th the groups all sat down trying to salvage the season. In a June 10th statement it was revealed that the season would resume on June 12th with Peterborough taking on Cobourg. The league would only be comprised of five teams, with neither Brampton or Owen Sound competing in this year’s Major Series Lacrosse games. The schedule would be be readjusted to reflect the teams playing.
It looks like the only way to sort out the differences between the two groups will be litigation. Although the season is now underway, and fans in Ontario can again attend live games, there is still a dark cloud that looms over the MSL and the OLA. We hope a resolution can made sooner rather than later.
Stay tuned for any and all developments on the situation.
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Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.