NHL and NHLPA Make Temporary Changes to CBA Amid COVID Issues

The NHL and NHLPA put out a press release yesterday (December 26) announcing that they had made temporary changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the parties.

One of the major changes, which come as a response to the COVID issues that have hit the league, players and staff in the past few weeks, is the reintroduction of Taxi Squads.

The Taxi Squads will be temporary from December 26 (this is “subject to Holiday Roster Freeze restrictions” according to the NHL and NHLPA’s press release) through the All-Star Break – more specifically, a team’s last game prior to the 2022 All-Star Break.

Following the All-Star Break, teams will dissolve their Taxi Squad and recall or reassign players

The Taxi Squads will have a maximum of six players assigned to them. The press release says that assignments to the Taxi Squads “will be subject to Waiver requirements as applicable.” In addition, no “individual Players may spend more than twenty (20) cumulative days on the Taxi Squad during the temporary formation period.”

While on the Taxi Squad, the press release notes that players will travel and practice with the NHL team. The protocol, however, states that they “can only play in an NHL Game if recalled and placed on the NHL Club’s Active Roster before such NHL Game (and no later than the appropriate 5:00 p.m. deadline).”

Not all of the players placed on the Taxi Squad will be required to travel to all aways games, the league does recommend “that a sufficient number of Taxi Squad Players travel with the Club to ensure an adequate number of Players for Recalls as may be necessary.”

The NHL and NHLPA further announced other temporary changes to the CBA. These are effective December 26, 2021 and run through the end of the 2021-22 NHL season.

(Keep in mind that I am translating these points – as well as the above – from legalese, a language I do not speak. Hopefully I am getting the right points here).

Teams can recall players for their rosters for emergency purposes if their average salaries are no more than $1,000,000 (before performance bonuses). The press release does note that “any Performance Bonuses earned by a Player recalled pursuant ot Section 50.10(e) shall be included in determining a Club’s Performance Bonus Overage for the 2022-23 season.”

Goalies can be recalled immediately should a team have less than two goalies on their active roster injured or sick and cannot play in the team’s next scheduled game. The recalled goalie can be recalled without having to dress for the previous game.

This will apply to goalies getting hurt or sick during an NHL game.

The last point from the press release addresses roster size for forwards and defensemen.

Should a team have less than 12 forwards and six defensemen on their active roster who can play in the next scheduled regular season game, and the press release notes that this is only if they cannot play due to COVID Protocol, the team can recall players without “having to play the previous game with fewer than 18 skaters.”

The players recalled will fill the “deficient positions” the release says.

I think I got all of that. The NHL and NHLPA do have the full documents for the changes to the CBA posted online and, I believe, through the NHL App, should anyone want to get specifics or clarification on anything I may have misinterpreted.

We will be back with coverage of day two of the 2022 World Junior Championship later tonight.

CBC: NHL Players Likely Not to Participate in Beijing Olympics Due to COVID Fears

In the wake of the NHL shutting down a few days earlier than expected before the annual Christmas break due to rising COVID-19 cases, the CBC posted an article today that the NHL and the “National Hockey League Players’ Association have reached an agreement to not sent players to participate in the 2022 Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in February.”

It is important to note that CBC Sports said in their article that they could not “independently confirm the report.”

The story was initially broken by Chris Johnston of The Toronto Star and Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli as per the article by the CBC staff on CBC.ca.

Johnston reported (and it was reported by the CBC) that “the league and its players made the decision on Tuesday and now must finalize it with the International Olympic Committee.”

The CBC said that “Seravalli reported on Twitter the official announcement could come as early as Tuesday or even later in the week.” The CBC article also noted that the NHL “had until Jan. 10 to opt out of the Olympics without financial penalty.”

The NHL announced yesterday that the 2021-22 season would be shut down early prior to the Christmas break – pausing all activities from December 21 through 25 with ten teams needing to shut down due to COVID outbreaks. Fifty games have been postponed this season already with the Devils missing their two games leading into Christmas at Pittsburgh and against Montreal. A game in November against Ottawa was postponed but has already been made up by the teams.

According to Johnston, the NHL’s decision comes from needing to play the rescheduled games during the three-weeks that would have been set aside for the Olympics beginning on February 4.

The CBC article said that ESPN is reporting that the games played during the February break “could include currently postponed games or even moving up future games as a result of the lack of arena availability during the break, with many booking concerts and other events.”

This will be the second straight Olympic Games that NHL players will not participate in. The league declined to send players to PyeongChang in 2018 due to not wanting to break up the regular season right after the Super Bowl when the NHL had some of the North American sports landscape between only itself and the NBA.

The NHL first sent its players to the tournament at Nagano in 1998.

Originally, the NHL and NHLPA committed to the Beijing Olympics this past September. The agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation gave the sides the chance “to withdraw if COVID-19 conditions rendered participation “impractical or unsafe.””

And with that, an entire generation of players have likely passed through the NHL that will not really get to represent their countries at the Olympics. When you realize that someone like Connor McDavid never got to play for Canada at the Games, that is just mind blowing. He will be four years older in 2026 and could still get his chance should the NHL participate, but he might not be the tippy-top elite player that he is right now in his prime – though still very good, of course.

Time will tell how things shake down for 2026, but as of now, NHL it seems, will not be playing in the 2022 Olympics. We will keep you updated here on any news pertaining to this situation and will have coverage of the 2022 World Junior Championship from Alberta starting the day after Christmas.