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Getting to Know the CBA - Episode 15: Article 22 - Competition Committee

Jonathan Daniel

Short article this week. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

You can find the entire CBA here (PDF)

Article 22: Competition Committee

You might not believe this from all the bickering about money that was going on this time last year, but the league and the NHLPA have a vested interest in making sure that the league and the sport are flexible enough to make changes without having to overhaul the entirety of the CBA while both sides are represented strongly enough to ensure that the best interests of the two parties are accommodated. This is where the Competition Committee comes in.

The Committee is specifically tasked with "examining and making recommendations associated with issues affecting the game and the way the game is played." The issues are

  1. Development, change, and enforcement of playing rules
  2. Player equipment regulations and standards
  3. Player dressing room and in-arena facility standards
  4. Scheduling of games played outside a team's home arena (outdoors, Europe, etc.) and the standards of those facilities.
  5. Issues related to schedule, compression, and start times for games.

The Competition Committee isn't limited solely to this scope forever either. As long as both sides agree, they can expand the list of issues at their discretion.

The Committee Members

The Competition Committee has ten voting members: five active players and five club officials. There will also be a non-voting official from each side, as well as "up to one" advisor for each. The NHL and NHLPA may separately create their own rules for how they select representatives and for how long those representatives serve.

Committee Meetings

There isn't a limit to how many times the Committee can meet, but the meetings have to be held on dates and at sites mutually agreeable to both parties. There is a minimum requirement that they meet two times per year: once at the All-Star Break and another time in June; both of those meetings will pre-date the General Managers Meetings scheduled for around those times.

Both sides have to have at least four out of their five members present to constitute a quorom and give the Committee the authority to actually vote on items instead of just discussing them (for clarity, a group too small can still meet and discuss things, but the real purpose of the Committee is to take votes on recommendations and they can't do that without a quorom).

14 days prior to any meeting, the chairman of the meeting is responsible for circulating a detailed agenda of the meeting with the specific parts that they'll discuss and potentially act on. Both the NHL and NHLPA have the power to "disapprove" any item on the agenda. Such a disapproval prevents the Committee from taking a vote to recommend any changes (although they may still discuss the item, potentially to find out why one side or the other is specifically blocking a vote on it).

Committee Actions/Approvals

The entire reason the Competition Committee exists is to consider changes to be submitted to the General Managers and ultimately the NHL Board of Governors to decide on. In order for an item to get that far, it needs the approval of a two-thirds majority. Once they have that, they present it to the General Managers for their consideration. If the GMs approve it, then it goes to the BoG. If the GMs don't approve it, the Competition Committee can still push it directly to the Board of Governors, but they need another 2/3rds majority vote to do so.

There is not a way for the Committee to override a failure to get the BoG's approval for a change. If they kill it, the issue dies there (although there's nothing saying they can't force the BoG to vote the same recommendation down again and again until they come around).

22.7 - Both Sides of the Coin

Section 22.7 speaks to the key point of the entire reason the Competition Committee exists. If the Committee gives the two-thirds approval for an item needed and the Board of Governors approves their recommendation, the NHLPA may not bring a subsequent challenge to that change.

This is the process by which rules/equipment/scheduling change. The Board of Governors does not need the Competition Committee's permission to make a change, but the Committee needs the BoG to approve any changes. The only thing which effectively works to check the BoG's power in this is the NHLPA's right to challenge or grieve a change to any of the Committee's areas of influence without them having had a say (although this is a very strong check of power, all things considered).

In-Season Reffing Standards

Almost as an afterthought, 22.8 is thrown in which states that league and officiating representatives will be available to meet with NHLPA representatives upon request to discuss on-ice rule enforcement during the season. This isn't really so much a Committee consideration, but this is as good a place as any to put such a clause in the CBA.

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That'll do it for this week. Next week we'll get into insurance coverages.