Painting the Picture
On August 26th, the NHL announced that the Arizona Coyotes punishment for violating the league’s combine testing policy. It’s a hefty penalty for the Coyotes, they’ll be docked their 2020 second-round draft pick and their 2021 first-round pick. The league announced via press release that they found that the team had conducted physical fitness tests among draft-eligible prospects prior to the NHL combine. For the punishment, Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL, said the following:
“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.”
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 26, 2020
Basically, the league could have fined the team more than I’ve ever seen a sports franchise get fined. However, Bettman decided that it was more appropriate to dock some high draft picks instead. I think that the Coyotes would have been docked two first-round picks but Arizona doesn’t have one this year.
What Actually Happens
This got me talking with a couple of friends on Zoom the other day – what happens to forfeited draft picks? Something has to happen to them right? In order to figure it out ourselves, we went right to the previous times we’ve seen sports teams docked draft picks. Front and center in all of our brains, the New England Patriots. The Patriots have been hit with forfeiting draft picks a few times, unfortunately. Most notably from the Spygate and Deflategate scandals. In 2015 the NFL docked New England their first-round draft pick for the 2016 and their fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Drafts. We looked up who was drafted thanks to Wikipedia and we noticed that nothing happened; the pick was displayed as “Selection Forfeited.”
What Should Happen
That doesn’t seem fair to me, especially from an athlete’s perspective. So many players work their entire lives for the potential to play in the league they desperately want to thrive and make a living playing in. Totally forfeiting a draft pick makes it one less athlete getting to turn their dream into a reality. I understand why the NFL and NHL have docked teams their draft picks in recent years, I just also happen to think there is a better way to go about it than leaving one more athlete not being drafted. (Before you all roast me, I know that teams can also pick up undrafted talent, too, but if they’re on the cusp they should be able to be drafted.)
I think that forfeited draft picks should be put in a lottery. Yes, exactly like how some leagues decide who gets the first pick of their draft. It’s almost like a bonus incentive, and in a way, a bonus punishment. Seeing another team with a pick your organization was supposed to have has to sting a little bit. Since this doesn’t happen all that often, I think that only teams that miss the prior seasons’ playoffs should be eligible for the hypothetical Forfeited Pick Lottery.
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