EVERETT — Garry Davidson isn’t talking. Neither is the rest of the WHL.
The Everett Silvertips general manager declined to comment Thursday about the sanctions levied against the Portland Winterhawks, citing a gag order issued by the league.
Portland was hit with unprecedented punishment for what the league described in a statement as “player benefit violations” that took place over the past four seasons. Winterhawks head coach and general manager Mike Johnston was suspended for the remainder of the season, the team was fined $200,000, and Portland forfeited it’s bantam draft picks from the first five rounds in 2013, as well as its first rounders through 2017.
Davidson was Portland’s director of player personnel for four years before being hired by Everett in February to replace the dismissed Doug Soetaert. However, he was unable to speak about the situation.
Davidson did say that as far as he knew, neither he nor the Silvertips were the subject of any consequences as a result of the WHL’s investigations. Davidson’s name was not mentioned in the WHL’s statement, which was released Wednesday. The Winterhawks retain the second-round bantam pick in 2014 acquired from Everett as partial compensation for hiring Davidson.
The WHL’s statement said the league would not comment further on the matter.
While the league refuses to speak on the specifics of the case, the Winterhawks released a statement outlining what they claim are the violations, including:
— A player contract signed in 2009 involving flights for the player’s family and a summer training program.
— Flights provided to the families of seven players over the course of five years.
— Two instances of paying for one-week summer training programs for players.
— And a cell phone provided for a team captain over the course of three seasons.
All of those violations, with the exception of the 2009 player contract, involve players who were on Portland’s active roster. Davidson’s role as Portland’s director of player personnel focused on the Winterhawks’ prospects and bantam drafts as opposed to the active roster.
Portland’s first game since the announcement is tonight at home against archrival Seattle.
The Winterhawks’ first road game since the announcement is Saturday in Everett. That game also features the first appearance at Comcast Arena of former Silvertips superstar prospect Seth Jones, who spurned the Tips in favor of the Winterhawks during the offseason.
Silvertips overage winger Ryan Harrison, who’s been out since Nov. 9 because of a slightly torn meniscus in his knee, will not undergo surgery to repair the tear. That means Harrison, who’s listed on the injury report as week to week, likely will be back sooner than had he undergone surgery. Harrison has yet to rejoin practices. … Tonight’s game against Vancouver pits the two teams with the worst winning percentages in the Western Conference. Vancouver is the only team in the conference that Everett has a winning record against. The Tips won both of the teams’ previous meetings.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.