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Getting to Know the CBA Episode 19: Articles 28-30

Stevie Roxelle - @stevieroxelle - Biscuit Fox

Last we dove into the contract between the NHL and NHLPA which dictates the entire relationship between the ownership and labor in our favorite sport, we got into Article 26, which makes it very clear that circumventing the CBA is a no-no. Today, we come to a group of very short articles that we'll cover all at once.

Let's get started

You can find the entire CBA here (PDF)

Article 27: [Intentionally Blank]

In the 2005 CBA, this was an article titled "Releases", which basically said "we promise not to sue each other for anything that happened during the lockout." That part was omitted as an article of its own, but it is contained in its entirety in one of the supplemental letters tacked onto the end of the CBA.

Article 28: Player Fund; Standby Players

If you thought players don't get playoff bonuses, think again. In each league year, the NHL pays a lump-sum bonus (which does count as a "benefit" for calculation of the Players' Share of revenues). This bonus is designated to be allocated among the players who make the playoffs and split among those players in a manner to be decided by the NHLPA (and approved by the league). Here are the amounts by year:

League Year Playoff Bonus Lump Sum
2012-13 $13 Million
2013-14 $13 Million
2014-15 $14 Million
2015-16 $14 Million
2016-17 $15 Million
2017-18 $15 Million
2018-19 $16 Million
2019-20 $16 Million
2020-21 $17 Million
2021-22 $17 Million

Also, for players called up to be standy for the playoffs, they're entitled to single room hotel accommodations, mid-size rental car accommodations, and the NHL per diem during the time they're on standby.

Article 29: Continuing Education and Career Counseling

In full, this article reads as follows:

The League and the NHLPA shall work together on developing and improving career counseling and continuing education programs along the same lines as the Life After Hockey Program. Programs of this kind shall be funded based on the expanded mandate of the NHL Players' Emergency Assistance Fund, as directed by the joint Board that will oversee the administration of that Fund.

Article 30: NHL Constitution and By-Laws, League and Club Rules

This is the article which incorporates the NHL rulebook into the CBA. Essentially, it binds the players to abide by the rules without retyping all of them in this document while also protecting them from randomly-changing rules by requiring that those changes be signed off on by the NHLPA and all players be provided with copies of the rules. If there is a question where a rule may not exactly jive with what the CBA says on a topic, the CBA is the ruling document.

There are certain documents that the CBA essentially considers not to be the NHLPA's business to know and it gives the NHL some privacy in those. The included examples are:

  • League, officials, and club pension, savings, insurance benefits, and medical plans.
  • League/Club bank financings and ownership operations.
  • Officials' collective bargaining matters.
  • Television, radio, and other media agreements and arrangements (the revenues/costs are explored in accounting, but the specific rules aren't open for review).
  • Leases for office, storage space, and the like

The NHLPA may audit these documents if it can successfully contend that it constitutes a league rule, but my feeling is the arbitrator would not agree in cases where the players' conditions of employment are not affected. Documents pertaining to collective bargaining strategies fall under the same protections, but they're a little more-stringent, as the NHL simply has to provide a list of what they're not telling the NHLPA without giving the details.

As for club rules, there's a standard set of them laid out in Exhibit 14 at the end of the CBA which teams may choose to use or not. Clubs can make up to three changes to the general rules, but they have to get approval by both the NHL and NHLPA for any such changes. All players have to be given a copy of these rules before their season starts.

Finally, all fines for violation of league rules go to the NHL Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. A player can't be fined for "indifferent play" (although he can be punished for it). A player CAN be specifically fined for reporting to camp overweight. Neither of those rules are meant to limit other rights of clubs to punish/fine players for other acts, as approved.

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We'll stop there for this week. There are three more short articles that follow that we'll get into next time.