A $100 million class action law suit has been filed against Bell Mobility Inc., alleging the wireless giant breached contracts with its prepaid customers.

The suit, which represents over one million customers, alleges that prepaid wireless cards used by customers should be protected as gift cards under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act.

In October 2007, the Ontario Consumer Protection Act banned expiry dates on gift cards, which, as the suit alleges, is how prepaid mobile payments should be classified.

Celia Sankar, who spearheaded the lawsuit, said she saw a need to step forward and “do her part” to fight for the rights of prepaid wireless customers.

“I saw a major, powerful corporation conducting its business in a manner that, to me, appeared to be unacceptable,” Sankar said in an email to Humber News. “Prepaid wireless services are popular with many persons of limited means, therefore, many of the customers affected are those who can least afford to lose their funds.”

Louis Sokolov, the lawyer representing the class, told Humber News that the lawyers have heard of customers losing anywhere from $10 to $100.

“With Bell’s pre-paid wireless cards, they assign expiry dates,” said Sokolov. “Those expiry dates are illegal.”

While the case commenced in May 2010, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified the class action today.

“This decision is a victory for the vulnerable consumers who use pre-paid wireless services,” Sankar said in a press release. “These services are popular with many persons of limited means. It’s tremendously important that they have access to the court through a class action proceeding to have their claims fairly tried.”

However, the real success would come if Bell and other mobile companies would be forced to change their ways.

“A victory in this case would compel Bell and other wireless companies to change the ways they charge their customers,” Sokolov told Humber News.

In the release, Sokolov stated the importance of the certification by the Superior Court is paramount, as it requires the allegations against Bell to be answered.

“Bell’s business practices comply with all applicable laws and the contracts we enter with our customers,” Bell spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis. “This is of course the case with our prepaid cards, and we look forward to addressing the issue in court.”

Michelis added that the threshold for class action certification is “quite low” and don’t address whether or not claims have “any merit.”

However, Sokolov told Humber News the case likely wouldn’t be heard in court for at least another year, meaning a decision won’t be reached for some time.


Reggie Leach’s 19 goals during the 1975-76 playoffs is a record that still stands today. (Image courtesy Shoot To Score Hockey)

Reggie Leach has the statistics and the hardware, but a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame still eludes him. That could change on July 9.

Leach, now 62 and far from his playing days, said he doesn’t think about induction into the Hall of Fame, but his son Jamie believes otherwise.

“I think it would mean the world to him,” said the younger Leach. “I know [the Hall] is probably one of his goals he set for himself. He’s spoken openly that it has been a goal of his, and, I think, if he could do it all again, he would do some things differently.”

Jamie, 43 and a former NHLer in his own right, is referring to Reggie’s past of alcohol abuse, which is a topic Reggie speaks to youth about at his Shoot To Score hockey camps.

“I like to talk to the kids about life choices,” said Reggie. “I’m not an expert, but I tell the kids what I think is important, and I think talking to them about choices they make is important.”

Reggie, a Stanley Cup champion and winner of the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP, may have gone unrecognized by the Hall of Fame’s selection committee thus far, but Winnipeg singer-songwriter John K. Samson is trying to see his hometown hero have his name called.

Samson, who was not available for comment, released a song on his latest album Provincial dedicated to Leach. In fact, the song’s title is a link to an online petition – the very petition that Samson submitted on Feb. 23 in hopes of the Hall recognizing a boyhood idol.

“We’ve received a few petitions this year,” said the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Kelly Masse. “[Samson’s] submission – the singing outside the Hall of Fame – was interesting and unique.”

Leach said he first became aware of the song during CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada, when Samson performed it on stage in Whitehorse, YT.

“I didn’t even know who he was,” said Leach. “There was a big concert, and he sang the song and talked about the people in Riverton. He came down the stairs (after his performance) and I saw him. He researched everything. The song is really, really good.”

As the song touches on, Reggie comes from a lower class upbringing. One of the more powerful lines in the song comes when Samson explains how Leach played on borrowed skates until the age of 14.

“I think telling people about my background is important,” said Reggie. “It doesn’t matter how big a community is, all it takes is hard work. You don’t have to be rich to make it.”

Whether or not Reggie makes it into the Hall of Fame come July 9, he said he’s prouder of the work he’s doing now than he is of any statistic or award he received during his playing days. However, he still shows his appreciation for Samson and the over 3,000 people who’ve signed the petition.

“There have been a few groups trying to get me in,” said Reggie. “These people doing that, those who have signed the petitions, those are the people who are my Hall of Famers.”

For trade’s sake

April 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Gone and passed is another iteration of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, and what started as an absolute snore ended with a windfall of deals coming in the last hour leading up to the deadline.

Marian Gaborik moved from the New York Rangers to the Columbus Blue Jackets in one of the biggest deals of Deadline Day.

Big names — I’d reckon we can still call Marian Gaborik a big name — were on the move, while the minor deals will go largely unheralded as the future effect will be little more than a blip or a fun fact years down the road.

Fans in Minnesota lauded the move of Minnesota Wild GM landing former Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville, albeit coming at quite the cost. Philadelphia Flyers fans screamed at their phones and televisions as Steve Mason moved from Columbus to the City of Brotherly Love. Completing the spectrum, armchair GMs are left scratching their head on what exactly went on to get Washington Capitals GM George McPhee to give up Filip Forsberg less than a year after he drafted the Swede in the first round of the entry draft.

While nearly every team added at the deadline — either in the way of future picks, prospects, or roster players — there are a few which stood pat. On deadline day, the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens made nary a roster change.

Granted, pre-deadline the Wings added sought after defense prospect Danny DeKeyser, and the Canadiens sealed a deal with Los Angeles for Davis Drewiske. In addition, it’s not as if the Islanders didn’t try to improve as, come deadline day, they reportedly kicked the tires on Brandon Saad because apparently Garth Snow thinks Chicago Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman can’t tell his head from a hole in the ground.

But with the lack of moves, some fans threw their hands in the air in outrage. A large sampling of Twitter action would probably be quite profanity-laced, as fans derided their favourite team’s management for not doing anything. But what is the sake of trading for trading’s sake?

If GMs made deals at the behest of fans who cheer for the club they run, it’s safe to say that franchise’s would be run into the ground.

Red Wings fans wanted to see Johan Franzen on the outs.

A litany of Red Wings fans have cried for Johan Franzen to be moved or outright waived without a thought as to the implications for the team going forward. If the Wings could have found a suitor for Franzen — if he was on the block, he would have had several, of that you can be sure — the return they would have gotten could have been slim. Fair market value for a proven playoff performer is something these fans aren’t even taking into consideration.

Fans who are making snap decisions just want to see something happen. They want something to happen so they can be apart of the flurry without careful consideration as to the implications of a deal. Making a deal, just any old deal, doesn’t necessarily provide anything to the team.

When addressing the media as the buzzer sounded on deadline day, the aforementioned Bowman told the press the management team had, “to ask ourselves the question, does it make us better? And to make a move just to make a move, we don’t believe in that.”

And as should be the case.

Sometimes staying the course is better than making a decision you’ll later regret. The GMs are doing what they believe is best for the team they’re trying to build. Whether it’s the right move or not, that’s to be seen. But there’s a careful calculation to be made.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best move to be made.

It’s something he has done before — successfully, I might add — but Kaspars Daugavins went for it again: he pressed the toe of his blade into the puck and took off, barrelling down on Tuukka Rask. Ripping a quick spin-o-rama, Daugavins tried to bury the puck, which was still tucked tightly under the toe of his stick, but was denied. He skated back to the bench with his head down. But today his attempt has the hockey world talking.

I’d like to say I fall in line with the majority of hockey fans when saying that I’m not a proponent of the shootout, but that would be a lie. While I understand the merit of deciding a game with extra hockey, and with the notions of 3-on-3 or expanded overtime being bandied about, I have to admit there’s something that encapsulates me about the one-on-one between a shooter and goaltender. I want to see supremely skilled players do things with a puck that I could barely dream of, and I want to have those ideas inspire others to try jaw-dropping moves and carry on an era of shootout flare.

This is where Daugavins comes in. Post-game, David Krejci — whose Bruins squad Daugavins tried his awe-inspiring attempt against — said he wouldn’t be pleased if a player on his own team tried that. I’m not Nostradamus, but I’d venture a guess and say Krejci would probably be having a laugh on the bench if, say, Brad Marchand had pulled that out of his bag of tricks.

Think about the most memorable goals from the near decade of hockey that has been played since the inception of the NHL’s shootout era. If you didn’t think immediately about Marek Malik’s between-the-legs, Pavel Datsyuk’s signature deke, or Patrick Kane mesmerizing Niklas Backstrom, I’d be surprised. Those are moves that were played on highlight reels throughout the continent. They are what sells the game.

We have engaged in the fighting debate enough to come to the conclusion that, in reality, it likely is no longer really selling the game. But when a fan sees something like Daugavins attempt? You can guarantee they think about watching a bit more puck to see what these guys can do.

I don’t doubt that Ryan Lambert was on to something today he brought up the point about Daugavins and Linus Omark — whose shootout attempts became something of legend — were both European players. That, no doubt, probably has a bit to do with the scrutiny Daugavins is facing from fellow players. Surely, Good Canadian Boy Sidney Crosby would never do something outlandish in the midst of a game that wouldn’t be considered classy.

The problem here is hockey’s archaic view of right and wrong. Many in the league would decry Daugavins attempt because hockey has some obsession with the “old school,” and an inherent want to stay true to the form it has always been. As Lambert also pointed out, hockey is more inclined to accept a borderline hit and chalk it up to part of the game than they are to embrace creative play that can bring fans to their feet.

There is nothing wrong with what Daugavins did. It is — in a more literal sense than hits from behind and staged fights — part of the game. He was within his bounds to attempt it, and if he had scored, I would have applauded the next to try it.

Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian fought 13 times during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Winsor Spitfires. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian fought 13 times during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Winsor Spitfires. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

Nearly one full season complete, and it appears the Ontario Hockey League’s sanctions on fighting have put a serious dent in the amount of fisticuffs you’re seeing during league action.

Before the puck had dropped to ring in the 2012-13 OHL season, the league made several rule changes. The one receiving the most attention — and rightfully so after what feels like years of debate surrounding player safety, concussions, and fighting — was the OHL’s decision to put limits on player fights.

The amendments to the player legislation (which do not appear in the leagues downloadable rulebook) are as follows:

  1. If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 11th – 15th time during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two (2) game suspension for each additional fighting major in addition to any other penalties assessed.
  2. If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 16th time or more during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two (2) game suspension and the hockey club is fined $1,000.00 for each additional fighting major in addition to any other penalties assessed.
  3. If a player is deemed to be the instigator in any of the fights above the ten (10) game threshold, such player would be assessed an automatic four (4) game suspension in addition to any other penalties assessed.

Though the change to the rulebook was met with mixed reaction, the rule changes allowed for the league to protect its players and take a step towards what will likely become a league sans fighting. It’s for this reason that fight-fans were outspoken on what the implications could be for the future of hockey — one they wish to have fighting be a part of.

It seems fitting to bring this up now, if anytime, just a day after the Ottawa Senator’s Dave Dziurzynski suffered what looked to be a pretty serious concussion at the hands of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frazer McLaren under a minute into the Ottawa-Toronto game last night. While the blogosphere continues to argue the outright removal of fighting (something I’d guess is unlikely to happen for many years) or just limiting it to stiffer punishment for staged fights, the model I easily see the NHL adopting is something similar to what the OHL has taken on: a fight limit. Continue Reading…

The Chicago Blackhawks were Stanley Cup Champions in 2010 and anything short of another Stanley Cup won’t be enough this season. (Image courtesy WikiCommons)

With a 5-3 win last night over the Minnesota Wild, the Chicago Blackhawks pushed their point-streak this season to 23 games — a record of 20-0-3. The streak, which is the longest in the history of the National Hockey League to begin a season and second longest point streak of all-time, has put the Blackhawks front-and-centre on the sports radar in the United States. But in the end, the streak means nothing if the Blackhawks don’t win the final game of the season.

Many have been discrediting the streak as a product of the loser-point era and saying the Blackhawks have been the beneficiary of a “play it safe and secure at least a single” strategy, the streak should be discredited for another reason entirely: it doesn’t mean a thing.

Though earning a record in a league that’s satiated with parity is an achievement, it would be remiss to think anyone but fans and media care much about the streak. Even with this streak being only statistically possible once every 700 years according to Richard Cleary in an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, it’s still not what the players set out each season to do, and it’s not what diehard fans dream of their team doing.

However unlikely it seems, this record will fall. This record will fall, and without a Stanley Cup to commemorate what is one of the greatest seasons the Windy City’s NHL team has ever seen, it will eventually be a memory that falls by the wayside for all hockey fans.

These records, for the most part, they come and go. What was Anaheim’s record from 2006-07 is no more, but if Ducks fans were asked what they remember about that season, it would be safe to say it’s the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks have been impressive this season, which is an understatement, but this season is about a race to the finish, not who’s first out of the blocks.

Were the Blackhawks to slip in the playoffs and be eliminated early, the streak would not be enough to please the fans. A divisional banner, maybe the least important banner in all of hockey, is worth less than nothing.

It’s not that fan expectations of this team are too high; fan expectations are right where they should be. The Blackhawks have succeeded to a point where they’re bound to lose a few — and a few in a row, in all likelihood — but ‘Hawks fans should now be worried about when this team happens to hit the skids.

The streak is an interesting statistical oddity and something that will eventually come to an end. A Stanley Cup at the end of the season will last forever.

It was senior night in Farmington and goaltender Austin Krause was getting the start after being sat in favour of a sophomore goaltender. Krause was unhappy with his role and had supposedly premeditated this outburst. He took the puck, put it into his own goal, removed his glove, gave his coaching staff a gesture, and left the ice through an already opened gate.

s/t to @FollowThePuck and @RLMarkuson for information.