Originally Posted by w1nman
You're right, there is a draft and all that, but everyone knows that certain players will not play in certain towns. Because of that, teams won't draft a player they know they have no chance of signing cuz he'll just go to college. For example, Eric Comrie, he was the top player available in his draft, but 13 teams passed on him because he made it pretty clear that he's not coming up north from Cali to play for no small, freezing, nothing to do town in Canada. Only the 5 US teams and perhaps the 3 NHL towns had a shot at him. Tri with their Vezina winning owner took a shot at him and only landed him because they also drafted his best bud brian williams and brought him up north with a lot of playing time guarantees, promised Eric a certain number of games in net as a 16 yo behind rimmer, and promised him the starting job at 17. All that is a lot, and while inside the rules, you can see how it can be easy to stretch it out. If the dub allows that to go much further, then you may as well only have 8 teams in the league. That is why Portland got hammered.
Also, another thing that looks a little fishy, that people have mentioned, is the college guys and euros that they've picked up. Euros taken in the import draft have no obligation to come over here. this line from the punishment listed:
" A player contract signed in 2009, involving flights for the player’s family and a summer training program"
screams, to me, Sven Baertschi. I don't buy this robin hood mantra that portland is putting out there, nor do i buy reports that all flights were only given to players after they signed. All that is coming out of portland, not the league, and Portland has been proven guilty of lying thru this whole process as the league did say they lied multiple times when they could have come clean in the last 6-8 months. Both Sven and the kid they got this year bjorkstrand, before the import draft, had no intention of coming to north america. They take a magical family trip to Portland (how did they get there!?) and the kid signs. I dunno, just sayin'.
The mike johnston 'vendetta' thing portland fans are perpetrating is tiresome, as just a small amount of research shows that johnston and robison have been great friends for ages, making this even harder on the commish. He is even quoted as saying such.
The real message this sends, to me, is the US teams need to be super careful. This still is a canadian sport and a canadian league, and the US teams already have an unfair advantage in their attractiveness to US born players. Taking that advantage further and breaking rules leave no choice but to have the book thrown at you.
You're ignoring the fact that Rattie, Ponich, Johansen, Ross, Morrow, Carruth, Peters, Rutkowski, Wotherspoon, Boychuck, Gabriel, and so on (in other words, just about every key non-Euro from our last two playoff runs) were drafted by Ken Hodge
before Johnston ever got to Portland. Johnston was the one who developed them, but they were in the pipeline when he took over. Yes, under Johnston we have successfully convinced a handful of NCAA-bound players to come to Portland; but at the same time, as the article mh34444 posted points out, we've also rolled the dice and lost with other NCAA-bound players we've drafted and failed to convince to change their minds. Johnston has gambled on those players quite a bit, hoping that the draw of Portland as a city and a fanbase combined with the team's recent on-ice success and Johnston's coaching pedigree will entice kids with NHL dreams to come to Portland. Do you really think that kids like Turgeon and Jones whose fathers were professional athletes really chose to come to Portland because they received improper benefits? I think it's far more likely that they chose to come to Portland because they and their families looked at what Johnston has done and said, "I want to play for that guy."
Regarding Bartschi, unless you believe we signed Bartschi to a contract a year before we actually drafted him, I don't see how he is a plausible fit for a player signed to a contract in 2009. And I'm pretty sure if we were signing players to contracts before they were even drafted, that would have been mentioned in the sanctions.
I never claimed (and I haven't heard any other Winterhawks claim it either) that the WHL or Robison has a vendetta with Mike Johnston. I think the vendetta is with the Winterhawks franchise as a whole, and many of us had felt this was the case even before these sanctions. You yourself suggest that there is an anti-US team bias in the league due to a perceived unfair advantage in getting US-born players to play there. Interestingly, the only US-born players to have an impact on our playoff runs were Mac Carruth (a Hodge draftee) and William Wrenn, so that argument doesn't carry much weight in this case. And going briefly down a rabbit trail, I would also argue that places like Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton have an advantage over US teams in getting Canadian players to play for them.
As much as it sucks for those trying to argue that Johnston must have cheated to build the team, the fact remains that aside from Neiderreiter, Bartschi and Wrenn, the key players from the last two teams were all either Canadian-born, Ken Hodge
draftees, or (in most cases) both. Supplying the team captain with a cell phone is a minor thing which I do believe the Winterhawks should be punished for, paying for off-season workouts is a bigger issue which I believe the Winterhawks should be punished for (the loss of a 1st round pick or two would seem fair), but punishment for the flights for parents and/or for assumed infractions for which no evidence was found is ridiculous. Read the league rule on the flights (which made up the vast majority of the infractions), it could be argued that the Winterhawks operated within the letter of the law with the way it's worded.