Content Warning: The following update addresses sexual abuse.
Several sources have expressed concern over the USHL’s decision to appoint minority partner Josh Mervis as supervisor of the Omaha Lancers franchise currently embroiled in a scandal over Mervis’ connection and involvement with the coach of hockey disgraced Tom « Chico » Adrahtas.
At least four former players have joined in a lawsuit against Adrahtas, accusing him of sexual assault, although none of them knew each other at the time of the alleged assaults.
Mervis, who was the team’s general manager and assistant coach, hired and worked closely with Adrahtas with the Danville Wings, who first played in the North American Hockey League before moving to the USHL in 2003-04. Adrahtas resigned from the Wings in February 2004 citing personal health reasons, according to an archived press release, which also stated that Adrahtas had been with the organization since 1999.
According to a source close to the third-party investigation into the Omaha Lancers, one of the investigators expressed concern when he learned of Mervis’ connections to Adrahtas, who is currently the subject of a federal lawsuit. in Minnesota District Court over the summer.
USA Hockey, the Illinois Amateur Hockey Association and the University of Minnesota, where Adrahtas coached for a season, are all named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges that those in positions of authority do did not sufficiently protect the players from the abuse they accused. Adrahtas to perpetrate, despite warnings about the conduct of the coach. The allegations have yet to be proven in court.
Although Mervis was never involved in the Adrahtas scandal, sources said investigators were surprised to learn that he would be appointed to the post despite his known association with a co-accused in a major hockey-related lawsuit.
Details of the allegations against Adrahtas were first reported by Katie Strang of athleticism in 2020. Adrahtas received a lifetime ban from the US Center for SafeSport in June 2020.
In The Athletic story detailing the allegations against the former Chicago area coach, Mervis explained his story with Adrahtas:
Owner Josh Mervis said he heard the rumors about Adrahtas, but believed they may have been the result of a smear campaign against an unmarried bachelor whose life was being consumed by hockey. Mervis said he went out of his way to do due diligence – in one case while flying to meet a former Adrahtas training partner – and consulted several well-connected hockey players who knew Adrahtas. Everyone vouches for him.
“I’ve asked some powerful hockey players to say he’s a good coach and I should hire him,” Mervis told Athletic. «
One of Adrahtas’ alleged victims, who told the news media in detail about her earlier abuse, was briefly a member of the Danville Wings.
A source close to the investigation said that once investigators learned of the connection between Mervis and Adrahtas, USA Hockey’s general counsel was notified. An emergency meeting was called Monday evening, although the subject of that meeting is unclear beyond the ongoing investigation into the Lancers. Another meeting is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss next steps.