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WHL Portland Winterhawks penalized for alleged player/family benefit violations

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11-28-2012, 06:49 PM
  #1
LadyStanley
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WHL Portland Winterhawks penalized for alleged player/family benefit violations

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...tions/1732623/

Quote:
Winterhawks general manager and head coach Mike Johnston is suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs and the team has been fined $200,000. Travis Green will take over as coach.
The WHL says the disciplinary action is a result of a series of player benefit violations that occurred over the past four seasons.
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison is also suspending the team from participating in the first five rounds of the 2013 WHL bantam draft.
The Winterhawks also forfeit their first-round selections in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 WHL bantam drafts. Should the first-round selection in 2014 not be available because of a conditional trade, Portland will surrender its second- and third-round picks in that year's draft.

Violations included flights for parents based on distance from team and parental financial ability.


http://www.winterhawks.com/article/w...ons-suspension


Team's response


Quote:
“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,” said Johnston.

“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,” continued Johnston. “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.”



That's a severe penalty -- five rounds lost in the draft, five first round draft picks? Sounds like the league is trying to prevent them from having a team of just about any quality for years to come.

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11-28-2012, 06:56 PM
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Trl3789
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wow, quite severe

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11-28-2012, 07:03 PM
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Ernie
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Absolutely ridiculous.

Basically, the team helped families visit Portland. To see the players, who provide almost free labour for a private corporation. And who are sent away at a young age to live with strangers.

What the Winterhawks did should be the norm, not something they are penalized for in such a major way.

Methinks it's time for CHL players to take action. Perhaps a class action lawsuit would smarten certain people up.

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11-28-2012, 07:17 PM
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Gotta believe the team is not admitting to a bunch of their transgressions. The league is not mentioning anything and the team is just mentioning the minor stuff to play well in the media.

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11-28-2012, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
Gotta believe the team is not admitting to a bunch of their transgressions. The league is not mentioning anything and the team is just mentioning the minor stuff to play well in the media.
Or it really was minor stuff, and they did something dumb like trying to obstruct the investigation, so Robison came down hard on them more for that than for the actual violations.

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11-28-2012, 09:33 PM
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The penalty was probably more for having a too strong of a US based team. The infractions are rather inocuous and I'm sure most teams have committed such infractions to some degree. The optics dont look good for a league that prides itself on being Canadian. Furthermore the team looks to be strong for years to come.
It makes another case for not having a league that spans 2 countries. Would the NBA want to see a dynasty in the Toronto Raptors or MLB want to see dominance by the Toronto Blue Jays? Some will say the 1994 strike was conveniently contrived when the Expos and Blue Jays were set to meet in the World Series but I digress..


Last edited by james bond: 11-28-2012 at 09:35 PM. Reason: er
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11-28-2012, 09:37 PM
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We definitively don't have the whole story here, given the relative triviality of the transgressions. Is the CHL trying to be our NCAA?

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11-28-2012, 09:43 PM
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There is also a bunch on this here.

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...1296573&page=5

I am surprised at how stiff the fines were. They seem a little too harsh in my opinion.

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11-28-2012, 10:10 PM
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Has to be more to this. That's way to severe.

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11-28-2012, 10:17 PM
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Like was said somewhere else, they (the flights) could have been used as incentives to lure players to the club

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11-28-2012, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
Gotta believe the team is not admitting to a bunch of their transgressions. The league is not mentioning anything and the team is just mentioning the minor stuff to play well in the media.
Bingo. I can't believe how many people are buying into exactly what an interested party (the team involved) are trying to claim as the extent of what happened.

Are these the same who believe that either the NHL or NHLPA is telling the entire truth to the media?

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11-28-2012, 10:30 PM
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Wait I thought these fines were gonna be for tapping up NCAA players? It's just for providing flights to family members? tsk tsk

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11-28-2012, 11:01 PM
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[QUOTE=LadyStanley;56101535]http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...tions/1732623/




Violations included flights for parents based on distance from team and parental financial ability.


http://www.winterhawks.com/article/w...ons-suspension[/qoute]





I was amazed the Vancouver Giants did not get nailed with harsh penalties back when I was a season ticket holder, they coloured outside of the line a lot and did other things that I found interesting(I was a season ticket holder for 4 years and was friends with several behind the scenes guys). I know the OHL is coming down on clubs who go too far in recruiting players who could go to UNI. It is the worst kept secret that some clubs made deals with players who could go to uni to go the junior route for bonuses. Back in the 80's there was a documentary about five players who were getting to junior age, two wanted to stay in junior B because they wanted to go to uni, one of the kids, sitting with his father and the junior team that had drafted him, a car was offered to have the kid play junior instead and he did. No one batted an eye lash at that--times have changed

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11-28-2012, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
Bingo. I can't believe how many people are buying into exactly what an interested party (the team involved) are trying to claim as the extent of what happened.

Are these the same who believe that either the NHL or NHLPA is telling the entire truth to the media?
This is what the WHL said, I have to believe goes deeper, but their press release wasn't much different. It isn't just Portland spin on this, the penalties I read with the WHL commissioner talking didn't scan for me.

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11-29-2012, 09:37 AM
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Yeah, the punishment towards Portland is a bit overboard.

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11-29-2012, 09:55 AM
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http://unitedstatesofhockey.com/2012...avy-sanctions/

Interesting look at situation.

The recent sanction against OHL Windsor and now WHL Portland may be based in part on (implicit) threat from NHL about pulling funding to CHL because of alleged shenanigans regarding the handling of NCAA committed players.

Portland's Seth Jones was acquired in trade from Everett when he reportedly said he'd only play WHL hockey for Portland; otherwise he was heading to NCAA. (Nothing untoward was found in his recruitment per McKenzie.)

And it seems like there may be more sanctions coming against CHL teams.

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11-29-2012, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james bond View Post
The penalty was probably more for having a too strong of a US based team. The infractions are rather inocuous and I'm sure most teams have committed such infractions to some degree. The optics dont look good for a league that prides itself on being Canadian. Furthermore the team looks to be strong for years to come.
It makes another case for not having a league that spans 2 countries. Would the NBA want to see a dynasty in the Toronto Raptors or MLB want to see dominance by the Toronto Blue Jays? Some will say the 1994 strike was conveniently contrived when the Expos and Blue Jays were set to meet in the World Series but I digress..
Hardly. The CHL severely smacked the Windsor Spitfires last season for all sorts of transgressions, and Windsor is in Canada, last time I checked. If anything, the CHL wants US teams to do well as that's a prime location for more expansion or team relocations. Canada is pretty much tapped out, not a lot of other places that can support teams.

There was also quite literally no possible way the Blue Jays would have made it anywhere close to the World Series in 1994, they were a bit of a disaster by then. The Expos did get screwed, yes, but not the Blue Jays.

Toronto is about the 5th largest city in North America, I don't think the NBA would have a problem if the Raptors weren't a complete mess and actually won something. Toronto is still a large potential basketball market, the Raptors have only scratched the surface, mostly becuase they're perpetually awful and have a crappy team name.

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11-30-2012, 03:38 PM
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Jim Houston was on SXM HNIC today. Talked about this situation.

First, provided some history of the team. With new (financially endowed) owner, the team has "wanted" for nothing, including hiring a top (NHL experienced) GM and coach. As a consequence, the team has improved on the ice and attracted a lot of (better) players in the WHL. And been much better than some of the "have nots" (including community-owned Swift Current).

Second, including scuttlebutt, the severity of the punishment regarding the draft picks may be a way of really pushing Portland below the level of the other teams in the league.

(Houston had no problem with the financial fine.)

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11-30-2012, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernie View Post
Absolutely ridiculous.

Basically, the team helped families visit Portland. To see the players, who provide almost free labour for a private corporation. And who are sent away at a young age to live with strangers.

What the Winterhawks did should be the norm, not something they are penalized for in such a major way.

Methinks it's time for CHL players to take action. Perhaps a class action lawsuit would smarten certain people up.
Agreed. What happens when hey find proof that a lot of teams actually pay their star players?

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11-30-2012, 04:33 PM
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http://www.whl.ca/article/whl-statem...land-sanctions

WHL statement
Quote:
After the WHL became aware that the Portland Winterhawks had entered into an undisclosed player agreement which contravened WHL Regulations, the WHL commissioned international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent investigation to determine whether there were any additional benefits extended to players during the past five seasons. The independent investigation identified 54 violations involving 14 players which have occurred over the past five seasons.
...
“We believe the sanctions are not excessive given the repeated and systemic nature of the violations,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The independent investigation discovered an unprecedented number of violations. It is the responsibility of each WHL Club and General Manager to be fully aware of the WHL Regulations and to be in compliance at all times. These sanctions are necessary in order to protect the overall welfare and integrity of our League and to preserve a level playing field for all of our member Clubs and our players.”
AIUI, those "54" violations count each flight (per person?) as a violation.

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11-30-2012, 10:39 PM
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http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/opin...unishment.html

CBC article describing in more detail than my notes from Houston mentioned above.

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11-30-2012, 10:52 PM
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So the WHL does issue a statement but it doesn't clarify anymore whether or not there was something more? This is all I gather so far and to me these are things that should be encouraged rather than fined for. Flying in Nino Niederreiter or Sven Baertschi's parents from Switzerland for example to watch their son is not exactly a bad thing.

"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

The Winterhawks also stressed that "the WHL’s audit found no violations involving monetary payments made to players, their families or agents, or any violations related to the league’s educational packages." In other words, they did not make under-the-table payments to players and they did not offer any players educational packages above the league standard. And it seems the initial reaction to a lot of people upon hearing what the Hawks were found guilty of doing is to say that the league's punishment seems very excessive, based on this."

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11-30-2012, 10:53 PM
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Someone tell me why Quebec Remparts paid guy Lafleur and bought him an expensive car in his last home game

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12-01-2012, 11:33 AM
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Someone tell me why Quebec Remparts paid guy Lafleur and bought him an expensive car in his last home game
You realize that was over 40 years ago, right? I think murder was even legal back then.

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12-01-2012, 11:43 AM
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I understand but you do no this goes on?The Kamloops Blazers organization in the late 1990's had 2 members of the organization fired for stealing larger amounts of money and one was found guilty under law?You do no certain people in at least 2 whl clubs turned a blind eye to what was happening to Kennedy and Feury and the reasons more criminal charges were not brought up was because lack of evidence and lack of witnesses because they were cowards.So please don't tell me about 40 yrs ago.

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