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Pacific Division news: Coyotes stripped of multiple draft picks for combine violations

Departed GM John Chayka was with the team when the violations took place.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you’re going to break the rules, at least try and hide it.

The NHL has laid down its punishment to the Arizona Coyotes for violating the league’s combine testing policy.

Arizona gives up its 2020 second-round draft pick, and 2021 first-round selection as part of the ruling. The Canadian Hockey League accused the Coyotes of holding illegal pre-draft testing with more than 20 prospects, saying Arizona put several junior players through physical testing, which is strictly prohibited by the NHL.

Commissioner Gary Bettman decided on the punishment after an Aug. 6 where both NHL and Coyotes officials had the opportunity to testify.

“I exercise my discretion to impose the aforementioned discipline — which I consider to be more appropriate given the specific circumstances of this case,” Bettman said in a statement. “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,”

No financial penalty was given to Arizona. Former general manager John Chayka was with the club when the violations took place. He stepped down from his position in July for undisclosed reasons.

Interim GM and former NHL player Steve Sullivan will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. Taylor Hall is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If the Coyotes re-sign the left-winger, they will have to send their 2021 second-rounder to the New Jersey Devils, or if Hall doesn’t re-sign, Arizona would send its third-round selection to New Jersey.

That would leave the Coyotes with just one pick through the first three rounds of the 2020, and 2021 NHL Drafts.