Nov 28, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT
The Portland Winterhawks are being punished for what the Western Hockey League calls a “series of player benefit violations which have occurred over the past four seasons.”
The league announced today that the Winterhawks will be barred from participating in the first five rounds of the 2013 bantam draft and will forfeit their first-round picks in the following four drafts.
GM/head coach Mike Johnston has also been suspended for the balance of the 2012-13 season, plus the playoffs.
In addition, the organization has been fined $200,000.
“Our independent investigation in this case revealed there were multiple violations over an extended period for player benefits that are not permitted under WHL Regulations and were not disclosed to the WHL,” said league commissioner Ron Robison in a statement.
“It should also be noted through the course of the investigation there was no evidence of any payments or enhanced education benefits provided to players that would be contrary to WHL Regulations as previous media reports indicated.”
No specifics of the violations were disclosed in the announcement; however, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the league’s investigation did not uncover any “irregularities” with regards to the club’s recruitment and acquisition of top prospect Seth Jones.
The sanctions come in the wake of a dramatic turnaround for the Winterhawks. When Johnston took over early in 2008-09, he inherited a team that had won just 47 games in the previous three seasons. Fast forward to the present and the team is coming off back-to-back appearances in the WHL finals.
Recent first-round NHL picks out of Portland:
2010: Ryan Johansen, 4th overall by Columbus
2010: Nino Niederreiter, 5th overall by NY Islanders
2011: Sven Baertschi, 13th overall by Calgary
2011: Joe Morrow, 23rd overall by Pittsburgh
2012: Derrick Pouliot, 8th overall by Pittsburgh
Update (4:25 p.m. ET):
The club has released a statement outlining the violations that it’s been found to have committed.
—- A player contract signed in 2009, involving flights for the player’s family and a summer training program
—- Over the last five years, seven families were provided flights 2-4 times per season based on financial need and their distance from Portland
—- Twice in the last five years the team paid for two players to each have a one-week summer training regimen
—- The Winterhawks provided a cell phone for its team captain for a period of three seasons
Not surprisingly, the club feels the punishment is overly harsh.
“After fully cooperating with the league’s investigation, we were extremely surprised at the excessive nature of the sanctions, and we don’t feel they are in line with the scope of the violations we were found to have committed,” Johnston said in the release.
“We believe that apart from recruiting trips and parents’ weekend, there is no prohibition in the rules governing flights for players’ parents, which were the majority of the infractions. We are currently exploring our options on how we will proceed. Despite our objections, the league has made its decision, and our players will continue to pursue the goal of winning a WHL championship.”
Image of Mike Johnston via winterhawks.com
Jul 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Could make things interesting next season.
Jul 3, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Brings a wealth of success, experience at AHL, collegiate levels.
Jul 3, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
$52.5 million extension.
Jul 3, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
“This long-term commitment that assures he will be an important part of our team for years to come.”
Jul 3, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
“They gotta come in and knock somebody out of the box.”
Jul 3, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
A one-year, two-way deal for the ex-Islander.
Jul 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Charlie Huddy, Pascal Vincent and Wade Flaherty all inked three-year extensions.
Jul 3, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT
Expected to battle Brian Elliott for the starting role in St. Louis.
Jul 3, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of this organization.”
Jul 3, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
Jul 3, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT
Bobby Sanguinetti to Buffalo; Sharks grab Mark Cundari.
Jul 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Where he “contributed to the development of Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Martin Jones.”
Jul 3, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
How patiently will he wait?
Jul 3, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
The 44th overall pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Jul 3, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT
Plays a similar style to his dad.
Jul 3, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT
Their supporting casts haven’t been this strong in some time.
Jul 3, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Pictured listening to Patrick Roy; he’ll next listen to Dave Cameron.
Jul 3, 2015, 8:07 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
He was fired by Toronto back in April.
Jul 2, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Doug Armstrong dipped into the free agency pool Thursday evening for some depth signings.
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 40
- Locked in: Columbus signs Saad to six-year, $36M deal 17
- Oilers sign McDavid to entry-level contract 17
- ‘Hawks would like to re-sign Oduya, but still working through ‘financial hurdles’ 13
- Trade: Caps acquire Oshie from Blues for Brouwer, Copley and draft pick 73
- Voynov takes plea, gets 90 days in jail plus probation 60
- Curtains on Broadway: Martin St. Louis calls it a career 36
- Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin? 23
- Caps landing ‘affordable’ Williams a sign of the new free agency 4
- Shots fired! ‘Canes owner Karmanos rips into Jim Rutherford (Updated) 59
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (131)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Trade: Flames land Dougie Hamilton for package of picks (75)