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.