A violation of Western Hockey League regulations has cost the Portland Winterhawks their first-round bantam draft choices for each of the next five years.
The WHL announced Wednesday disciplinary action against the Winterhawks as the result of a series of player-benefit violations which have occurred over the past four seasons.
The league has prohibited the Winterhawks from participating in the first five rounds of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. The club will also forfeit its first-round selections in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 WHL Bantam Drafts.
The WHL also announced the Winterhawks have been fined $200,000, while team 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,” WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a statement. “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 Winterhawks eliminated the Kelowna Rockets from the WHL playoffs in each of the last two seasons.