NHL strips Coyotes of two draft picks for violating combine testing rules

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The Coyotes will forfeit their 2020 second-round draft pick and their 2021 first-round draft pick for violating the NHL’s Combine Testing Policy.

The league announced the sanctions after Commissioner Gary Bettman held a hearing with representatives from the Coyotes and NHL earlier this month.

According to the NHL, the Coyotes admitted to the violation, which forbids physical testing of draft-eligible players before the scouting combine. The investigation centered on the team fitness-testing Canadian Hockey League players.

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“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,” said Bettman in a statement.

“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.”

John Chayka was general manager of the Coyotes from 2016 until he resigned in July. Steve Sullivan is currently serving in an interim role.

“Under new leadership, we have added thorough internal controls and compliance measures to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again in the future,” said the Coyotes in a statement. “We will have no further comment.”

The Coyotes will now be without a pick in the first three rounds of the 2020 draft. For 2021, they currently don’t have a first or third rounder. Should they re-sign Taylor Hall, that third-round pick becomes a second rounder, which will go to the Devils.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.