The Kitchener Rangers are seeking $1 million in damages over a story published in a Michigan student newspaper that claimed the club offered to pay a player to suit up for the team.
The defamation suit against The Michigan Daily seeks $500,000 in general damages and $500,000 in punitive damages and was expected to be filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Kitchener Tuesday, according to a team lawyer.
The story, which was published last week by the University of Michigan student newspaper, alleges, through an unnamed source, that the Rangers offered defenceman Jacob Trouba $200,000 in place of an education package to play in Kitchener. The team and Trouba family both denied the claim.
Trouba’s OHL rights are owned by the Rangers, but the blueliner has committed to the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for next season. The 18-year-old was selected ninth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in last month’s NHL draft and is considered one of the top defensive prospects in his age group.
The Rangers formally requested that The Daily retract the story or issue an apology and set a Monday deadline before moving ahead with a lawsuit. As of Tuesday, the story was still on the paper’s website. Staff from the Daily said they could not comment when reached earlier this week.
Trouba has never wavered from his desire to play for the Wolverines and expressed his position to prospective NHL teams before the draft. However, if the blueliner inks a deal with the Jets he will forfeit his right to play in the NCAA as the league does not allow pro players.