As our Getting to Know the CBA series rolls on, we find ourselves in Article 16. We've got eight pages and 15 subsections in this article to cover the four topics. I'm going back to the section-by-section breakdown for this one because it covers a few different topics easier.
Article 16: League Schedule; Playing Rosters; Reserve Lists; Practice Sessions
16.1 - League Schedule
The schedule is set here at 82 games, including any which may happen in Europe. All SPCs are built assuming an 82-game season as well. If for some reason they agree to play fewer than 82 games (*cough* lockout), the player's salary is reduced in proportion to the reduction in games that takes place.
16.2 - Playoff Games
This is a piece borrowed from the last CBA (you can tell because it references the 2005-06 season as though it hasn't already happened). The playoffs are set at four rounds of seven-game series, but also give consideration to a Playoff Qualification Round in which four teams from each conference play in best-of-three series to qualify for the playoffs. If the league decides to do this, the NHLPA would have to give consent, which could not be unreasonably withheld.
16.3 - Length of Season, Balance and Consistency
The season cannot be less than 184 days without consent in any given league year, and they must strive to make a balanced, consistent schedule in regards to week-to-week and month-to-month scheduling. All teams will play a game within the first three days of the season starting & within the last three days of the regular season. The league submits a draft schedule, giving the NHLPA time to review and make recommendations, but the league makes final decisions on how the schedule actually turns out.
16.4 - Active Roster Size; Playing Roster
This is where the roster size is set at 23 men up until the trade deadline, when the roster limit disappears. Clubs also can't send players down if doing so would result in their roster size dipping below 18 skaters & 2 goalies. If injuries cause the roster to go below those limits, they will need to fill those gaps with call-ups/trades before their next game, except in emergency cases.
16.5 - Monthly Schedules; Restricted Days
Players get a monthly team schedule which shows game/practice days, as well as days off. Teams are required to give each player 4 days off per month for all purposes , no more than two of which can happen when the team is on the road. A day off after traveling can only be considered a day off if the team arrives no later than 2AM local time. League-scheduled days off (the All-Star Break, Olympic Break, Holiday breaks), will count as days off for this purpose.
December 24-26 are leaguewide days off unless the 26th falls on a Saturday & the league schedules games. In that case, December 23rd becomes a substitute day off. The All-Star Break is a break for all purposes. Teams can practice/travel the day after the All-Star game, but they have to excuse All-Star players from those specific sessions.
From 11:59PM local on December 19th to 12:01AM on December 28th, there will be a Holiday Roster Freeze in effect which will prevent teams from waiving, trading, or loaning players anywhere. There are a few exceptions here though. Teams can call people up during the freeze and players who get put on waivers before the freeze can be claimed during it. If a player comes off LTIR during the freeze, a team can take steps necessary to come into compliance with the salary cap as well. Players on emergency recall can be sent down and players who were brought up after December 11th can be sent down no later than 11:59PM on December 23rd, as long as that player is waiver exempt.
16.6 - Practice Sessions
Practice sessions shall be scheduled at reasonable times in accordance with the general practice of Clubs in the League.
16.7 - Game Times
No games before noon local time without permission.
16.8 - Travel Requirements
Clubs can't plan to fly on the day of a game if the flight is expected to be longer than 2.5 hours unless they're forced to by virtue of playing on back-to-back dates. Also, players are entitled to 9 hours "off" after arriving at the team's hotel and being required to show up for practice/meetings. This doesn't apply when extraordinary circumstances (like travel delays) prevent it.
16.9 - Single Room Accommodations
Any Player on an SPC who is not in the Entry Level System shall be entitled to single room accommodations for all Club road trips.
16.10 - Intentionally Omitted
(This was the section which included the Holiday Roster Freeze in the 2005 CBA. They moved it to 16.5 for clarity.
16.11 - Injured Reserve List/injured Non-Roster
Any player who is reasonably expected to be unable to play for seven days due to injury or illness can be placed on the Injured Reserve List. A player whose same injury carries over from one season to the next can start the season on the IR. If a player is hurt in training camp or gets injured while not an the active roster, he goes on the Injured Non-Roster list instead. Long-Term Injured Reserve carries a few additional exceptions, but the same considerations apply as far as whose name is on the IR list.
Players on IR can attend team meetings travel with the team (if they want him to), and even practice with the club. He can't take part in pregame warmups, play in a game, or even dress in uniform on game day. (Injured Non-Roster players can't do any of these things). Both types of players have access to the team's training and medical facilities, but teams can restrict their access during times when healthy players would need access.
A player on IR can be replaced roster-wise, but both he and his replacement's pay count against the salary cap (the LTIR cap exemption works by allowing a team to exceed the cap by exactly the amount of his hit). He can be placed on IR retroactively, but he must remain on IR for no fewer than seven days.
Defining whether a player is injured is the same process as laid out in Paragraph 5 of the SPC, which we covered in Episode Six.
Since this is a good place for teams to abuse loopholes, there's a specific paragraph in this section which gives the Commissioner the authority to take "whatever steps he deems necessary" to ensure teams are using this section appropriately and punish as he deems appropriate in cases when teams are found to have done so.
16.12 - Non-Roster Players
A player can be placed on the Non-Roster list for reasons other than injury (birth of a child, attending a funeral), at the Commissioner's approval. His roster spot can be replaced, but the cap hit of both he and his replacement will remain. In cases where a player returning from IR or being picked up via waivers/trade would put a team over the 23-man limit, they can place another person on waivers and he'll be designated as Non-Roster until he clears & is sent down or is picked up (and if he does clear, he must be sent down). During this 24-hour period, both cap hits will count.
Again, the Commissioner has the authority/responsibility to make sure teams aren't using this section to cheat.
16.13 - Goaltender Exemption
Teams can exceed the 23-man limit to stay at the two-goalie minimum in cases where one of their goalies is unavailable (injury, illness, suspension, abduction, abdication, adjudication, prestidigitation, AWOLnation, whatever). However, they can only do this twice per season and neither of their two exemptions can last more than 48 hours. If a team wants to, they can use both 48-hour exemptions back-to-back.
All three goalies can participate in warmups (provided healthy and non-suspended enough to do so). If the starter/backup turns out healthy enough to go, the exemption still counts as having been used.
Any other time other than what's laid out here, a team must have no more than 20 skaters if they're also going to carry 3 goalies.
16.14 - Goaltender Professional Try-Out Agreement
If a last-minute injury pops up and it's otherwise impossible for the team to call up a goalie in time, they can sign a person who is available to arrive on time to a one-day Professional Try-Out. This emergency goalie is paid $500 and is allowed to keep his game-worn jersey. However, there are some additional rules.
- The $500 doesn't count against the cap, but the team has to have at least the league-minimum salary's worth of cap space available to make this move.
- The PTO is one day only and may not be used in consecutive games.
- The player signing the PTO cannot be contractually obligated elsewhere and cannot end a current contractual obligation specifically to be available for a PTO.
- If a team uses a PTO to exceed the 23-man limit, they have to have one of their two exemptions still available.
16.15 - All-Star Game
Three subsections here lay out that the All-Star Game will be a format agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA (without specifically defining that format in the CBA where it's harder to change). All-Star players (or players otherwise invited to the festivities for the purposes of being asked to hobknob with league sponsors) will be flown first-class. Finally, there will be no All-Star Game in years where the NHL participates in the Olympics.
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Next week, we get to look into grievances and how the NHL and NHLPA come to terms when they don't agree on how any part of the CBA should be interpreted.