Maple Ridge Burrards told ‘pay $25,000 or else’

WLA cracks down on late-game fighting.

The Western Lacrosse Association is coming down hard on the Maple Ridge Burrards, telling the team to post a $25,000 bond and clean up their play or face being booted from the league.

Six of the seven governors of the association approved the decision, the league said Wednesday.

The decision came following a May 29 game between the Burrards and the Burnaby Lakers in which 16 penalties were called in the game with 15 seconds remaining in overtime.

After that, the governors reviewed videos and game sheets from six other previous Burrard games, dating back to 2013, said a statement from Dan Richardson, WLA board chair.

All of the games were in Maple Ridge and five of the incidents were in the last five minutes of the game, “after a point where any reasonable lacrosse fan would consider the game decided,” Richardson said.

“It has become clear to the board of governors that the suspensions and fines laid out in the WLA operating policy, and enacted by the commissioner over these four seasons have not sufficient to deter the Burrards from this unacceptable, dangerous behaviour.”

Richardson says the team has to post the bond and not take any more fines or suspensions for the rest of the season.

If they don’t, the Burrards could be removed from the league.

The move came as a surprise to Burrards governor and president Lance Andre, who says his team is being used to set an example. The team’s penalty minutes this year are below the average for the league, if the May 29 game is excluded and during which 16 penalties were called.

So far this year, two Burrards have been suspended. Burnaby’s had two players suspended, as well, while New West has been fined $250. The Burrards have also been fined $500 this year.

“So we’re not the only team to be fined this year, either. They’re trying to make an example,” Andre said.

He added that the Burrards have had a good relationship with the league and has good relations with Langley, Coquitlam and Nanaimo.

“I’m not sure where this has all come from.”

Andre said the May 29 game was the only game of the four played this year in which the Burrards have been in a fight.

The team is now in first place with a 4-0 record.

Other teams have had multiple fights, he said.

Andre also pointed out that since he’s been team president the past seven years the Burrards have received five fines, totaling about $5,000.

He said the team doesn’t plan on changing its style of play.

“The perception is that we went out there with the intention to fight. That’s what they think we’ve done. Maybe we’re wearing rose-coloured glasses.”

But he agrees that staged fighting should be removed from the game.

Andre said his team doesn’t plan on paying the bond and wants to have another meeting.

Richardson said the league isn’t asking for $25,000 cash, just a cheque to hold as security.

He also wants better security at the games to keep opposing players from mixing with fans.

In the release from the league, he said: ” This was not a decision taken lightly by the Board of Governors – although the actions taken are heavy and the consequences severe, in a day and age where amateur and professional sports leagues across North America are recognizing player safety as a critical issue, there is no justification for the Western Lacrosse Association to continue tolerating violent behaviour in the modern game of lacrosse.”