So I suppose it should surprise no one that the sanctions are still a hot story, and will be throughout the season, which comes to an end with the conclusion of the Memorial Cup.
Clearly there are things that are legal, and things that are not - and the 'Hawks should have known that. Lets look at a few of them:
Armani Suits: LegalWhen the Vancouver Giants won the 2006 WHL Championship, owner Ron Toigo bought the whole team suits:
For the Memorial Cup, the owner of the Vancouver Giants outfitted all of his players in lavish, tailored suits. Apparently, they are not Armani suits, but something just as dapper.
'Pretty expensive,' says Vancouver's Jason Reese, who adds that he has nothing similar in his closet back home in Gresham.
Owner Ron Toigo has spoiled his players in many ways, but the Giants have rewarded him with an outstanding team that will take the ice in the Memorial Cup at Moncton, New Brunswick.
Side note: that Reese always did a number on the 'Hawks when he was with the Ams. Of course, everyone had their way with the 'Hawks then, but those days are long gone (thankfully).
Plane tickets for families: IllegalI don't really have a link for this, so you know - use your imagination. Look up the Seth Swenson story perhaps?
Just know that Armani suits are not an incentive to sign, but plane tickets for your folks are.
iPads: LegalLets look again at our shining example of the level playing field again, Ron Toigo. For Christmas 2011 he bought the Vancouver Giants all iPads.
In lieu of all the ruckus about the Winterhawks and their penalties for player benefit violations (PBVs), stories are coming out about what other teams might do for players, including one of about buying I-Pads as Christmas gifts.
Vancouver Giants owner Ron Toigo admits that his club did exactly that a year ago. He said one of the corporate sponsors approached the club, offering up a deal for buying in bulk. He said that the Giants reported the purchase to the league and the league subsequently came up with a dollar limit on gifts. Toigo would only say that it’s a “couple hundred dollars.”
He says multiple clubs did the same thing, although he wouldn’t name the other teams.
iPhone: IllegalThis is in reference for paying the team Captain's cell phone bill for the last 3 seasons. I know as much about the details as you do, but I get the impression that they didn't even buy them phones - just pay the bill for phones they were using anyway.
I've seen the point made that the team Captain is essentially an extension of the coaching staff, and is therefore a de facto team employee. The coach needs access to his captain.
Again, iPads for Christmas given to the whole team are not a recruiting tool. iPhones for the team captain - that's a violation.
When Brett Ponich signed in Portland, under Rich Kromm, I'm sure that he's thinking about that cell phone perk. When he's slogging through an 11 win, (-38) season, he's just holding on for that hook up. Going out on the PK with dudes like Ty Ariss, Lucas Alexiuk, and Lee Morrow as D partners - he's just looking at the light at the end of the tunnel - "Can you hear me now?"
Same with William Wrenn - dude was working with a full ride scholarship to Denver University, and that's a pretty good value in exchange for playing hockey. When he left mid-season, with 2.5 years of school left, to join the 'Hawks, I'm sure that phone benefit was front and center. Then in October: JACKPOT! He scored the "C" - and his cell phone billing worries were over.
When Troy Rutowski came to town, also under Coach Kromm - visions of cell phones had to be the driving factor of leaving Edmonton as an undrafted 16, to come to a 'Hawks team coming off of an 11 win season. To have the vision to know that Mike Johnston would be hired, and in his 5th WHL season he'd earn the "C" - that's pretty good foresight. Seems like a lot of work just to avoid paying the phone bill, but some dudes are cheap bastards like that.
I have no idea what make or model of phones these guys were using, but I like the iPad / iPhone comparison. Go big or go home, I guess.
Its also worth mentioning that Toigo was one of the dudes yapping the hardest about how the 'Hawks need to be punished. Makes sense.
Dwight Jaynes had a recent piece looking at some of this stuff.
- The Winterhawks have said from the start they were not aware of specific regulations against flying players' parents into Portland to watch their kids play. I believe them when they say that because as near as I've been able to determine, it's common practice in junior hockey. One NHL scout told me last week he'd been asking major-junior team operators all over Canada whether they pay for parents to fly in and watch their boys play. He said, "EVERY SINGLE ONE of them told me they commonly did it. It's something all teams have done."
- Be that as it may, if there is a rule against it, the Winterhawks broke it. So I asked Robison for something I'd requested by voice mail with the league office previously -- a simple copy of the regulation. If there's a rule, show us the rule and just like that, there's no question here of culpability. But Robison refused to provide that. Why?
There's more to what he wrote - give it a read.