We still don’t know exactly what the violations are, but man, they must have been severe. The consensus from people in the know is that it’s unrelated to Seth Jones, so everyone put away the fingers they were ready to point for now.

Here’s the statement from the WHL, with my emphasis added:

CALGARY, AB. – The Western Hockey League announced today the disciplinary action which has been taken against the Portland Winterhawks franchise for a series of violations of the WHL Regulations.

As a result of a series of player benefit violations which have occurred over the past four seasons, WHL Commissioner Ron Robison has suspended the Portland Winterhawks from participating in the first five rounds of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft and the forfeiture of their first round selections in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 WHL Bantam Drafts.  Should the first round selection in 2014 not be available due to a conditional trade, Portland will surrender their second and third round picks in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.  The WHL also announced the Portland Winterhawks have been fined $200,000 and Winterhawks General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston has been suspended for the balance of the 2012-13 season, including the 2013 WHL Playoffs.

“All WHL Clubs understand they are required to fully comply and respect our League Regulations or they will face significant consequences,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison.  “WHL Clubs are required to fully disclose all commitments they make to a player in the WHL Standard Player Agreement.  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.  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.”

The Western Hockey League will not make any further public comments on this matter.


Here’s some of the initial reaction from hockey’s most informed insider, Bob McKenzie:


 ”What are meals these days, 44 grand? Sounds about right. Here’s your per diem for the trip.”

It sounds like Portland will appeal, mainly in hopes of lessening the punishment.

The team, by the way, is currently 20-4-1, which might be part of the reason they found themselves under the microscope. Maybe not, but we know that people who make a ton of money are more likely to get audited, so I’m just going off that premise.

We’ll be updating with more details as we learn more…

Comments (10)

  1. I am greatly relieved to know that the violations did not include any “enhanced education benefits”. That would be terrible.

  2. Statement released on winterhawks.com

    The Winterhawks were found to have committed the following violations:

    • 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 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.

    • 2009 could be Johansen or Niederreiter. For flights and lodging it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it was for their pair of Swiss players (Niederreiter and Baertschi).

    • Who was their captain?

      And why is it against the rules for the team to fly the players’ families out? Because some teams can’t afford to and some can and it’s an unfair advantage?

      And why is a summer training program bad? I’m lost..

    • If there’s not more than this, David Branch is about to get an avalanche of bad publicity.

      As an uninterested party, this release has me wondering if there would have been similar sanctions against Glenn Metropolit’s junior coach for, like, buying him food or driving him to practice instead of making him walk all the way in shoes with holes in them while hungry.

      Granted, if the winterhawks make buying things for people who can’t afford them common practice, it could, theoretically become a competitive advantage. But this isn’t enough to merit the response they got.

    • I have to think there is more to it than this. If they got fined that heavily for a few plane tickets, hotel rooms and a cell phone, then its Major Overkill.

      $200,000 and killing their future draft for what, $15 grand? Maybe

  3. Get real WHL. These sanctions are along the lines that Penn State gets for the Sandusky crimes that actually hurt real people.

    Looks bad on them to whack an amatuer team this hard.

    It is about $15 a month for a cell phone. Sign me up for Captain! Assistant Captains only get a CB radio-sheesh!

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