EVERETT — Former Everett Silvertips forward Tyler Maxwell’s name has been back in the news recently as current Tips forward Patrick Bajkov moves closer to breaking Maxwell’s franchise record for career goals.
But earlier this week, Maxwell made headlines of a different sort.
The now 26-year-old father of two testified before the Oregon Senate Committee on Workforce. The Oregon legislature is in the midst of hearings related to a request by the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League for a minimum-wage exemption.
With the WHL currently facing a class-action lawsuit in Canada, the Winterhawks are requesting an exemption to minimum-wage law similar to the exemptions passed in the state of Washington, and in two Canadian provinces: British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The lawsuit in Canada claims the players are professionals, rather than amateur student-athletes, and seeks minimum wages for current players and back pay for former players.
In his testimony, Maxwell, a Southern California native who played with the Silvertips from 2008-11, made several claims, including that he was refused treatment for a broken kneecap on which he played seven games before finally receiving treatment. He also testified that he was rushed back to the ice before he fully healed.
In a phone interview Friday with the Daily Herald, Maxwell said he didn’t take the concerns to Silvertips management at the time, saying that it was handled at the level of the coaches and trainers. He also alleged a team official called him a derogatory name and pressured him back onto the ice.
“I shouldn’t have been on the ice … at three weeks after surgery. (I was) because I was trying to come back to (expletive) make the NHL and play (in the) playoffs, and they were fine with it,” Maxwell said Friday. “They were fine (but) they should have said ‘no.’”
In his testimony, Maxwell also took issue with the amount of time players were required to be at the rink, the provisions provided and the WHL’s scholarship program.
“(I) signed with Everett on the promise that I would have schooling no matter what, so that was kind of a standard offer to (get) top California players to de-commit from their schools,” Maxwell said. “I didn’t know that there was any fine print or stipulations, unfortunately, and I am fighting for education packages without a time limit. I think that’s a fair order and I feel like what you work for, your benefits, they shouldn’t go away.”
The WHL scholarship program requires players to enroll in college within 18 months of the end of their junior hockey eligibility.
Maxwell’s allegations caught the Silvertips organization off-guard.
“We don’t have a direct comment to it,” said Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer for Consolidated Sports Holdings International, Inc., the group that owns the Silvertips. “We’re investigating the matter and the fact of the matter is that it isn’t a recent (incident) so we’ve gotta go back and dig up a whole bunch of information that’s from 2008 to 2011. That’s what we’re doing currently, what we’re doing at the moment is looking into the matter to see what and why this has come forth in 2018.”
Rajcic also addressed the WHL scholarship program. The standard offer pays for one year of tuition, books and compulsory fees for each year a player competes in the WHL. The actual amount is based on the standard cost to attend a public university in a player’s home state or province.
“We’ve had (a WHL education coordinator) for a number of years and that’s where players go to to enact their scholarship,” Rajcic said. “That’s why we did that many years ago in the Western Hockey League, so I don’t know where the confusion for that came from. He never once reached out to us, I believe, and I don’t know if he did with the Western Hockey League.”
Maxwell went on to play four professional seasons in the ECHL and in Europe. He remains a fan favorite in Everett, where he returned during Alumni Night last season and dropped the ceremonial first puck alongside former linemate Kellan Tochkin.
Maxwell coaches three hockey teams in California, including the University of Southern California club team, and each summer hosts a camp in Everett.
“I want them to know I’m thankful for the great experiences and the relationships and all the support,” he said of the fans in Everett. “The support has been huge from all my followers over all these years.
“I just want to better the league.”
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