The Arizona Coyotes have been hammered with a stiff penalty for violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy. The team will forfeit their 2020 second-round pick along with their 2021 first-round pick. The sanctions were handed out because the Coyotes violated the policy by conducting physical testing on 2020 draft-eligible players prior to the combine. The team will not face any financial penalties and the staff members involved will not receive individual discipline. Commissioner Gary Bettman released a decision, which included the following explanation:
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. While I conclude that certain Club personnel acted in a grossly negligent manner at best, which was conceded by the Club, I ultimately conclude that the record does not establish—to a standard with which I am comfortable—that those individuals engaged in intentional wrongdoing, as opposed to grossly negligent behavior.
The Coyotes already didn’t have their 2020 first-round pick or 2021 third-round because of the Taylor Hall trade or their 2020 third-round pick because of the Carl Soderberg trade. Add those moves to this penalty and the Coyotes won’t be walking up to the podium very often over the next two seasons. For a team that is still trying to build its reputation and market after another recent ownership change, this is brutal news.
Arizona released the following statement in response to the punishment:
We were advised today of the NHL’s ruling regarding the allegations of physical fitness testing of draft prospects and respect the League’s ruling. Under new leadership, we have added thorough internal controls and compliance measures to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again in the future. We will have no further comment.