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Getting to Know the CBA - Episode 8: Article 14 & Transfer Payments

Stevie Roxelle - @stevieroxelle - Biscuit Fox

Last week we covered waiver procedures in the NHL CBA to clarify how, when, and why a player could be sent to the minors or bought out/eliminated from a roster. This week, we transition nicely into the next article, which tells us the procedures and rules regarding what players can expect in regards to their responsibilities and the clubs' responsibilities to pay for or otherwise cover their moving/living expenses.

You can find the entire CBA here (PDF)

Only six CBA pages and eight sections to this one. We'll have you out of here and up-to-speed on this article in a jiffy.

Article 14 - Reimbursement and Benefits for Transferred Player

We start this article with a definition, a declaration, and a clarification. A "Transfer" is any way a player moves while still having a contract (waivers, expansion draft, team relocation, loan to the minors, or call up from the minors). This article is to be interpreted with the idea that the player is entitled to reimbursement for being transferred (Meaning creating loopholes to find ways to skim money for yourself is a circumvention). Finally, a player who moves to a new club has his transfer paid by the new club. A player being loaned has his transfer paid by the existing club. Clubs can't assign, trade, or otherwise transfer the responsibility to make such payments.

14.2 - Rent/Mortgage Expenses

(a) (i-vii): This whole portion lays out that a player who is making rent or mortgage payments in one city when he's transferred to another can get up to six months' reimbursement for those expenses (on the residence in the city where he no longer plays, that is). The catch is that he actually has to either already have or get a new place in the new city within 12 months to qualify. For two-way players being loaned to the minors, they don't have to get new digs in the new city to qualify for this reimbursement.

A player who is transferred again doesn't have to have qualified by buying/owning a residence in the "layover" city to qualify for repayment when he gets a place in the final city. Likewise, a "rental" player whose contract runs out before his six-month entitlement does will still be paid, regardless of whether he signs a new SPC with the club that traded for him.

As hinted in the beginning of this article, there are limits to these reimbursements. The purpose of doing this is to keep a player with no reasonable expectation of being traded from getting into a financially tough spot by temporarily having to pay two leases/mortgages during the transition time. Here are the limits.

League Years Reimbursement Maximum (Monthly)
2012-13 & 2013-14 $4,000
2014-15 & 2015-16 $4,100
2016-17 & 2017-18 $4,200
2018-19 & 2019-20 $4,300
2020-21 & 2021-22 $4,400

Payments will be prorated for partial months.Players have 3 months from the time they're loaned, traded, or officially take up their new residence in their new city to apply for the reimbursement to start.

(b): Clubs are required to give notice to a player they transfer of his entitlements pursuant to this section. Failing to do so doesn't change anything in regards to these rights/obligations and there's no specific punishment for it, but a team would find themselves on the wrong side of the Commissioner's authority to levy punishments if they did.

(c): There are 12 specific illustrations here spanning about two pages which cover some what-ifs. They're presented as a "non-exhaustive" list. Here are a few that might not be perfectly clear already.

Illustration 3: Player is traded from City A to City B & rents a house there. 3 months later, he's sent to the minors where he gets another residence in the minor city. He now pays rent on three places: City A, City B, and Minor League City. He's entitled to reimbursement for rent expenses (up to 6 months, mind you), on both City A and City B residences (but not on Minor League City)

Illustration 5: Same as above, except the player doesn't get a place in the Minor League City. He only gets reimbursement for the City A residence (unless he's on a two-way deal, then he gets both).

Illustration 6: Player goes from Club A to Club B to Club C in a 12-month time and, since he didn't know this was going to happen, picked up/had a residence in all three before being traded. He can get reimbursement for the City A place from Team B and reimbursement for the City B place from Team C. Clear as mud, no?

Illustration 9: Same as 6, except he didn't get a City B residence. In this case, Team C pays his City A reimbursement. This clarifies the portion from 14.1 that says responsibility for reimbursements can't be transferred. Since the guy in Illustration 6 creates a responsibility for Team B when he gets a place, they pay the A residence. If he never makes Team B responsible, then the responsibility starts when Team C trades for him and he gets a place there.

In all of these illustrations and throughout the article, it's made clear that this is dependent upon a player who actually qualifies for this entitlement (which is defined by section 15.7 as a player with 160 NHL games total & 40 with the same club). It's also clear that a player won't be reimbursed for anything on a residence that's actually paid off. If he drops a bunch of cash to own a house and then gets traded, he won't get reimbursed for owning a residence free-and-clear.

14.3 Moving Expenses

A player will be reimbursed for reasonable moving expenses of household goods (plus 1 or 2 cars, depending on whether he has a significant other) if he moves within 12 months of being transferred. He may do this for every single move, but can't "save" reimbursements from moves he doesn't actually make (if he doesn't move to City B before being traded to City C, then only his move to City C will be covered). The Clubs paying for the moves get to choose the moving companies (which must be a fun leftover from the days of Jerry Moyes).

14.4-14.5 Hotel Accommodations, Per Diem, and Rental Car

A transferred player will be reimbursed for single-room hotel accommodations for 21 days after the transfer. If the transfer happens after Valentine's Day, he can get either the single room or the cash equivalent for the remainder of his playing season.

If a player is being put up in a hotel, he's also entitled to the Per Diem payment laid out in Article 19 as though he were traveling with the team. He's also entitled to a mid-sized rental car from a company of the team's choosing (and paid for directly by the team). If he wants to pay the difference between a mid-size car and whatever's more expensive, he can choose the company and get whatever discounts the team can get him, but that would be a reimbursement paid back to him rather than a benefit straight to the company.

14.6 Satisfactory Proof and Deductions

Woohoo itemized expense reports! It's obvious, but the player has to prove he's actually paid what he's asking for in reimbursements or that he's legally obligated to pay (in which case the club may elect to just make that payment directly to the vendor/lessor/pimp/whatever. Also, he cant "double-dip" reimbursements. If he's being paid one way already under a different benefit, then that is deducted from what the team owes him.

14.7 Spousal Airfare

A player's family (spouse/living companion + his children) will be entitled to one round-trip economy class airfare and reasonable baggage fees from the old city to the new city when he's transferred. If he intends to move the family to the new city, they get a round-trip to the new city to look for new housing and then later they get a one-way trip from the old city to the new city for the purpose of actually making that move.

14.8 Reporting Time

Nice and vague, here it is word-for-word: "A Transferred Player shall be afforded a reasonable timeframe in which to report to his new Club or minor league club."

This is vague for a purpose, because there's not a way to concretely codify what that timeframe should be. Obviously you can't have a club suspending a guy two hours after assigning him because he didn't make it to the minors quickly enough and you can't expect a player to take a two-month sabbatical before reporting because he had to rearrange his chi flow first.

- - -

So there you have it: all the stuff you never knew you wanted to know about how the CBA specifically covers the problems associated with how often players are required to relocate and how to make sure they're treated fairly. Up next, we'll look at training camp and the travel expenses associated with that.