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Portland Winterhawks Penalized For Player Benefits

The Western Hockey League handed down stiff penalties against the Portland Winterhawks Wednesday (today) for improper benefits the team gave players and their families.

League officials say the Winterhawks committed multiple violations over several years.

A summary of violations released by the Winterhawks includes flights for players’ families, a paid cell phone for a team captain, and summer training opportunities.

The Western Hockey League is a developmental league whose players are often teenagers.

Sanctions include a $200,000 fine, and the suspension of head coach and General Manager, Mike Johnston, for the rest of the season. And, the team can’t participate in the first five rounds of the 2013 player draft – and won’t get first round picks through 2017.

Winterhawks’ coach and GM Johnston expressed surprise at what he calls “the excessive nature of the sanctions.”

Johnston’s written statement questions some violations – like the flights for players’ parents.

The penalties come just as the Portland City Council considers spending more than $20 million on the team’s home: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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