Niagara IceDogs GM, coach suspended indefinitely for inappropriate comments

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Published April 6, 2022 at 2:38 pm

IceDogs Coach Billy Burke (show here during a game last October) and his brother General Manager Joey Burke were both suspended today by the OHL following an investigation into WhatsApp conversation between the pair. (Photo: Niagara IceDogs)

Niagara IceDogs GM Joey Burke and coach Billy Burke were both suspended indefinitely today (April 6) and heavily fined by the Ontario Hockey League for inappropriate comments.

The OHL received transcripts of a March 6, 2022 WhatsApp conversation between the pair and after an investigation, Commissioner David Branch announced their suspension, as well as a $150,000 fine split between the Burkes and the team.

The IceDogs play out of the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

The OHL said in their announcement that the texts “violates the Leagues’ Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.”

According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the language in the texts was “highly explicit and insulting” about a female colleague.

How long they are suspended is still somewhat vague. While most media outlets reported they were out until June 1, meaning this year, the release from the OHL actually says they’re out until June 1, 2024, more than two years down the road.

While the OHL didn’t return a call seeking clarification, this June seems to be the likelier scenario. Regardless, neither will be allowed back until “they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct,” said the OHL.

The IceDogs also did not return a call regarding an appeal nor did they mention the suspensions on their website.

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