The Ontario Hockey League announced Thursday that two players on the Niagara IceDogs, including team captain Landon Cato, have been kicked out of the league and the team’s general manager has been suspended two years for violating league policies.
The sanctions were handed down after findings from an independent third-party investigation.
The OHL had received allegations that “certain Niagara IceDog players” had violated the OHL’s maltreatment, bullying and harassment prevention policy and its code of conduct.
The investigation found Cato and goaltender Joshua Rosenzweig participated in “serious” violations of both policies, “including but not limited to physical maltreatment and aiding and abetting.”
Both players were banned from playing in the league. The OHL did not provide details of the allegations.
Also, team owner, governor, and general manager Darren DeDobbelaer was sanctioned for violating the league’s confidentiality directive regarding the investigation. His suspension from acting as GM — effective immediately — runs until June 1, 2025.
Niagara has also been fined $100,000 and will forfeit its top pick in the 2024 OHL draft.
The OHL said investigators interviewed approximately 15 former players, coaches, staff and team officials over a period of several months.
It’s the second straight year that the club has been sanctioned for violating the OHL’s harassment policy.
General manager, governor and minority owner Joey Burke and head coach and minority owner Billy Burke were indefinitely suspended in April 2022 following an investigation into comments made in a group chat. The two men and the team were fined a combined total of $150,000.
DeDobbelaer purchased the team in July 2022, with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky on board as a minority owner.