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OHL club sues Michigan student paper over story involving first-round pick Trouba

Jul 10, 2012, 5:42 PM EDT

Trouba

The Kitchener Rangers — the OHL club holding junior rights to Winnipeg first-rounder Jacob Trouba — are suing the Michigan Daily student newspaper over a report the Rangers offered to pay Trouba to play for them next season.

The Daily claimed that Trouba, a University of Michigan recruit, had been offered $200,000 to play with the Rangers next year rather than the Wolverines. The $200,000 was allegedly in lieu of an education package.

Kitchener CEO Steve Bienkowski says the allegations are false and has filed suit against the paper.

“It’s not a threat anymore,” Bienkowski said. “We served the newspaper and the writer there to either back it up or retract it.”

Here’s more, courtesy the Guelph Mercury:

Trouba has said multiple times that he intends to honour his NCAA commitment. His family released a statement in light of the Daily story denying “any insinuation that the Kitchener Rangers have offered a financial package to Jacob.”

The 18-year-old was selected ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in last month’s NHL draft. If the blueliner, who is currently at the Jets’ rookie development camp, inks a pro deal, it will nullify his NCAA eligibility.

Bienkowski vehemently denied the claims made by the Daily and said he couldn’t hide that kind of a transaction, even if he wanted to.

“We present our audited financial statements every year,” he said. “We don’t have subsidiary companies or other businesses.”

The Daily cited an unnamed source in the Trouba story and, when asked for comment, editor-in-chief Jacob Axelrad declined. (Of note, the story is still on the paper’s website.)

Bienkowski feels the damage to his organization is already done.

“By people out there saying whatever the hell they want, with not having to back it up and hiding behind sources, that damaged us,” he said. “I don’t take it personal but it’s frustrating. You work pretty hard to build what we think is an outstanding reputation in the CHL and then you have all this sort of stuff.”

  1. bcisleman - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    Several facts to consider: (1) the US First Amendment makes libel cases all but impossible to win.
    (2) Michigan judges are elected and (3) Michigan’s libel laws include the following proviso

    does not extend to those who claim their professional reputation or business have been defamed.

    Read more: Defamation of Character Laws in Michigan | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6458620_defamation-character-laws-michigan.html#ixzz20G9Qb46m

    Sounds like that proviso is right on point in this case.

    • bcisleman - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:23 PM

      I’ve discovered that the case is being brought in Ontario, not Michigan. That said, IF the Ontario court brought back any sort of judgement, it would still have to impose it. That would mean reliance on Michigan courts and the same factors would apply.

  2. sabatimus - Jul 10, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Ah, once again we see the perils of the unnamed source.

  3. theawesomersfranchise - Jul 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Of course they are suing these morons. I mean what a stupid story. Are people to believe that a team who nets less than a 400k profit each year is going to cut their profits in by 50-60% for a single player?

    The Rangers made a profit of $324,152 in the 2009-2010 season and Im fairly certain the economic landscape of North America has not been on fire since then. The same team that lost $181,795 in 1995.

    Absolutely ridiculous that the Rangers have 200k to throw around for 1 player.

    • brian32556 - Jul 10, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Ohh! 1995! Why didn’t you say so!? Doh! What in the dickens does bringing up 1995 prove?!

      • theawesomersfranchise - Jul 10, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        That profit margins in the CHL are wafer thin and have been for over 20 years?

  4. stakex - Jul 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Hmm am I the only one that finds it kinda strange that twice Bienkowski suggest the story could in fact be backed up? I mean to me, when someone says “back it up or retract it”… that implys that it can be backed up. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say “We want them to retract it since its 100% not true”?

    Obviously that could just be a poor choice of words, but its an odd enough choice of words to make one wonder a bit.

  5. wingsdjy - Jul 11, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Defamation? If not for this frivolous lawsuit, I would’ve never heard this story. I’m a Michigan Alum and even I don’t read the Michigan Daily. No one does.

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