NHL Forfeits Coyotes Two Draft Picks Due To Testing Violations
The NHL and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) kept the league’s bubble environment COVID-free because of their strict health and safety standards and return-to-play protocols. Stanley Cup playoff games are held in empty arenas, and COVID-19 hasn’t negatively impacted any game yet.
However, despite NHL and NHLPA’s combined efforts to prevent the spread of the virus and conclude the season successfully, some teams are struggling to religiously follow these protocols. On Wednesday, the NHL forfeited Arizona Coyotes’ two draft picks for violating combine testing rules.w
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman decided to forfeit the team’s 2020 second-round pick and 2021 first-round pick after Canadian Hockey League (CHL) teams accused Coyotes of carrying out pre-draft testing before the NHL scouting combine. Allegedly, the team had over 20 draft-eligible prospects take a series of physical tests.
Bettman came to the conclusion and eventual punishment this week after careful deliberation. In a hearing, the commissioner said:
“While the Combine Testing Policy Memoranda reference a fine of ‘no less than $250,000 for each violation’ of the Policy, I exercise my discretion to impose the aforementioned discipline—which I consider to be more appropriate given the specific circumstances of this case. As for the Club personnel who participated in, or may have contributed to, the Club’s violation of the Policy, I have decided that no discipline shall be imposed on these individuals.”
Coyote is currently being handled by Steve Sullivan, who is serving in an interim role. John Chayka was the general manager of the team from 2016 until he resigned a month ago. As Sullivan is only in an interim role, the team and the organization have yet to release a complete statement regarding the violation and their accountability. In a short statement, the Coyotes said:
“Under new leadership, we have added through internal controls and compliance measures to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again in the future…We will have no further comment.”
The Coyotes won’t be allowed to have their picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft. For next year, they currently don’t have a first or third-rounder pick if the NHL would extend the punishment. If the team decides to give up Taylor Hall, their third-round pick will become a second-rounder. Hall might go to the Devils.