Friday, November 30, 2012

The Rose Quarter Mafia

(Portland Winterhawks)
Day two of the WHL's war on the Portland Winterhawks took on a harsher tone with the WHL after saying they would not issue any further public comments on the matter went out and issued another statement.

The Winterhawks in kind responded as well and more than anything else the WHL and the Winterhawks are heading down a path that will do much more harm to the league than any good. This whole incident has been badly handled by the WHL and one has to wonder if the team and league are heading down a path of no return?

The Western Hockey League has released the following statement to provide further clarification on the sanctions imposed yesterday on the Portland Winterhawks.

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.

If anything the WHL has made things even more confusing because while claiming that their independent investigation uncovered 54 violations involving 14 players; the questions raised start with which rules did the Winterhawks break?

The Winterhawk response which I will post in a bit says that the WHL is turning what they said yesterday into 54 separate violations. If that is the case then it is now up to the WHL to show exactly they came up with 54 violations and what rules were broken.

By asking what rules were broken; I would like to see chapter and verse that shows these are violations. The WHL has opened this door by saying how many violations there were so now they need to document this.

The violations all relate to providing players with benefits not permitted under WHL Regulations. The violations include additional parent travel, off-season training and other benefits. These additional benefits, which were not disclosed to the WHL, are strictly prohibited under WHL Regulations.

All WHL Clubs and General Managers are required to fully disclose to the WHL all benefits provided to players and to ensure their Club is fully aware of and in compliance with WHL Regulations at all times.

Yesterday the WHL in fact said that: "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."

So am I the only who is scratching his head going "well they didn't break any rules" but now there is 54 violations. Break open the rulebook WHL if you are going to turn this into some kind of RICO Act conspiracy.

“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.”

The best response comes from the Winterhawks themselves so here it is and ask yourself if these are as serious as the WHL is making them out to be.

Tonight the Western Hockey League released a statement indicating there were 54 violations over five years involving 14 players. The Winterhawks do not dispute these allegations, which are consistent with the statement the team made yesterday:

• One player was provided flights for his family and a summer training program

• Seven families were provided 2-4 flights per season over the course of five years

• Two players were provided a one-week summer training session

• Four captains over three years were provided cell phones

The WHL is counting each flight, training session and phone as an individual infraction, adding up to 54. The league’s findings are consistent with the team’s statement yesterday, and the Winterhawks are encouraging more transparency in this process.

Really now if you say "it is 54 broken rules" then you are going to get a much larger reaction than if you say 15 were broken. And again to me the Winterhawks offering a player's family plane tickets BASED ON NEED during the season so the player's family can see their child shouldn't be a violation to begin with.

IF you read what I wrote yesterday regarding the cost of airfare into Portland and realize also that not every hockey family can afford to fly to see their son then this is a rule that needs to go. These kids leave home in the middle of August and if they play on a team like the Winterhawks that makes the WHL Finals is gone until May.

If the Winterhawks were paying players under the table in order to get them to play in Portland then yes by all means punish them harshly. Hitting them for "violations" that really rather petty is mind boggling and makes no sense.

Portland never hid these "violations" from the WHL and there was no attempt by the Winterhawks to hide what they were doing. And the more public this becomes then the larger the black eye somebody is going to wind up with.

Game Action

One game on the schedule and it is bit of a surprise as Peter Ceresnak (NYR 2011 6th) and his Peterborough Petes ended a 5 game losing streak with a 4-3 shoot out win over the Belleville Bulls. Ceresnak had a quiet game scoreless on no shots and even.

Good for the Petes beating the division leaders on home ice and hopefully they can build on this win.

Friday Night Hockey On TV

4 games on the National schedule but only 1 involving a prospect as Islander prospect Scott Mayfield and his Denver Pioneers look to halt a skid hosting Wisconsin on the NBC Sports Network starting at 10PM EDT/7PM PDT.

That game will follow Boston College facing Boston University which will face off at 7:30PM EDT/ 4:30PM PDT as NBC Sports plans on increasing the number of games they cover this year.

On CBS Sports Network, they will be showing a Hockey East clash between Vermont and Maine starting at 8PM EDT/ 5pm PDT.

The NHL Network USA will bring the Windsor Spitfires against the Kitchener Rangers in OHL action starting at 7PM EDT/ 4PM PDT. The NHL Network USA is also scheduling a game on Wednesday evening but has not released the names of the teams.

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