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'Truth will become apparent' in lawsuit filed by ex-Soo Greyhounds goalie, team president says

Tim Lukenda says Soo Greyhounds will 'vehemently defend' organization against 'baseless allegations' made by former player Tucker Tynan, who is suing team for $300K

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Soo Greyhounds president Tim Lukenda said this morning that his team plans to "vehemently defend" itself against "baseless allegations" made by former goalie Tucker Tynan in a lawsuit that has generated plenty of headlines. 

Tynan is suing the hockey club for $300,000, alleging Greyhounds staff and officials mishandled a shoulder injury, insulted him with derogatory slurs, advised him to self-medicate for pain, and pressured him to play through the injury. 

“In his relatively brief time with the team, we took great care of him as a player and a person,” Lukenda said in a statement shared on social media Thursday, adding that the team will be filing a statement of defence in court "in the coming days." 

Tynan left the ice after sustaining a dislocated shoulder during the first period of an April 1, 2022 game against the Saginaw Spirit, according to a nine-page statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court earlier this month.

Tynan played with the Greyhounds for part of the 2021-22 OHL season after being acquired from the Niagara IceDogs.

The Chicago, Ill. native alleges that Greyhounds athletic trainer Julian Cooper denied his request to be taken to hospital and was told that it wasn’t necessary for treatment. Cooper opted to “forcibly and manually manipulate and shift” the shoulder back into its socket, causing Tynan “horrific pain.” The lawsuit goes on to claim that follow-up treatment by Cooper entailed Tynan’s arm being placed in a sling and being provided with a couple of 200mg Advil pills.  

Following the game, Soo Greyhounds coach John Dean told SooToday's Brad Coccimiglio that Tynan could have gone back into the game if needed. “We didn’t want to risk it and we didn’t want to be juggling goaltenders,” Dean said at the time.

The lawsuit claims that Tynan’s pain subsisted, despite performing the treatment suggested to him by Cooper following the injury, which consisted of shoulder exercises and stretches in addition to wearing a sling and taking ibuprofen if needed. Cooper allegedly denied requests made by Tynan to see a specialist for imaging during this time, despite Tynan informing him that he was “self-medicating on 3,000mg of ibuprofen per day, in order to bear with the devastating and excruciating lingering pain and discomfort.”  

The suit claims that Tynan requested to be taken off of the Hounds’ active roster prior to a pair of games, but was denied both times by Greyhounds staff and officials. It’s further alleged that Dean used “derogatory and racist remarks” against the plaintiff and informed Tynan that removing him from the active roster would be a “selfish act” during this time. The goaltender subsequently ended up playing in both games.      

The situation, according to the lawsuit, would come to a head prior to an April 13, 2022 game against the Sudbury Wolves when Cooper, Dean and Soo Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis met with Tynan at his request. 

The goalie claims an argument ensued after he informed Greyhounds officials that his injury had not been resolved, leaving him in pain and discomfort. 

After hurling “multiple derogatory insults” at Tynan, the lawsuit alleges, Dean insinuated that he could be “faking or exaggerating the injury, as to get out of playing.” 

Tynan further claims that a request made to Cooper to be “prescribed something” for the pain two days later was denied; instead, he was encouraged to “find a way to power through the rest of the season.” 

The goaltender would undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a labrum tear and ligament tears during the offseason, the lawsuit claims. It’s alleged that Tynan’s subsequent eight-month recovery process, which included more than four months of “rigorous physical therapy,” was due to “the severity of the injury, and delay in proper treatment.”

The ex-Greyhounds goalie is now suing his former team for engaging in "reckless negligence and racial harassment," which Tynan claims resulted in "physical damages, emotional distress, as well as loss of enjoyment for life." 

Soo Greyhounds president Tim Lukenda adamantly defended his staff in a statement posted to social media Thursday. 

“The Greyhounds have some of the best on and off-ice staff in the league. I have complete confidence in Coach John Dean, GM Kyle Raftis and Athletic Therapist Julian Cooper both as professionals and as individuals who care greatly about the well-being of all of our players, including Tucker,” he said. “I stand behind our staff and trust that the truth will become apparent as the legal process unfolds.” 

It’s not the first time the former Greyhounds goalie has made headlines: Tynan was investigated by the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after a 2021 Twitter post from an anonymous account alleged that Tynan was involved in a bookmaking operation and had refused to pay money owed to others as part of the alleged operation.

Tynan was eventually cleared of wrongdoing by the league. "The investigation revealed no evidence that Tynan wagered on any OHL or Canadian Hockey League games or that he engaged in conduct to undermine the competitive integrity of any games," the OHL said in a statement at the time.  

Prior to his time with the Greyhounds, Tynan made headlines when he suffered a gruesome cut to his leg from a skate during a 2019 game as a member of the Niagara IceDogs, requiring surgery.