Federal immigration authorities denied Sabres’ conditioning coach and British academic Edward Anthony Gannon’s visa application, saying he did not qualify for an E1-B visa.
The owner of the Buffalo Sabres is suing federal immigration officials, claiming the Trump administration wrongfully withheld a green card from one of the hockey team’s trainers.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the lawsuit was filed by Buffalo Sabres’ owner Hockey Western New York LLC. The company’s complaint alleges that British researcher Edward Anthony Gannon was wrongfully denied a green card, even though Gannon was hired as the Sabres’ head strength and conditioning coach.
Gannon, says Buffalo News, is described in the lawsuit as a “UK national who possesses a Ph.D. in Applied Strength and Condition from the University of Bath—a leading university in the UK with an international reputation for research and the sciences.”
The Sabres say they wanted to hire Gannon due to his reputation as well as his past experience and research.
“The Buffalo Sabres are sponsoring Dr. Gannon for permanent residency to utilize his services to ensure that their athletes operate at consistently high levels in order to compete against other world-class athletes,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit, adds the Democrat & Chronicle, contends that Gannon is eligible for an EB-1 visa.
EB-1-type visas, or Employment-Based Extraordinarily Ability visas, are available to workers and professionals who demonstrate outstanding skill or talent in their respective fields. EB-1s may be awarded to actors, scientists, writers, or doctors—there is no particular constraint on career for qualification.
Dr. Gannon, says the lawsuit, has, in various ways, “risen to the very top of his field.” The complaint provides evidence of Gannon’s purportedly unusual success, including his published, peer-reviewed research—research which has been used by NBA and NFL trainers for other professional sports teams.
“Dr. Gannon’s research changed the way strength and conditioning professionals in the field monitor and track lower body strength and power which are key indicators of training program responses as well as readiness to perform physically at a high level,” the lawsuit says.
The Sabres’ suit also stressed the ways in which a professional like Gannon help ensure their team’s competitive advantage.
“Dr. Gannon plays a critical role for the organization as a whole to reduce the financial cost of players [sic] lost game time through effective and efficient prevention strategies in the areas of mobility, stability, balance, strength, power, and conditioning,” the suit says. “This is critical as injury to key players can reduce the team’s chances of winning and represents a significant financial cost to the organization.”
However, immigration officials say the documents they were provided—such as Gannon’s reference letters—did not adequately “illustrate how [his] contributions are both original and of major significant to the field.”
Immigration officials similarly condemned the Sabres’ decision not to include media reports on Gannon’s past successes—though the team did note that Gannon’s academic work is not something likely to be picked up by ordinary media outlets.