The National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League today announced agreement on the temporary formation of “Taxi Squads” as well as temporary changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement to address issues related to the ongoing COVID pandemic. While some of the highlights are listed below, a full copy of the temporary changes can be found here.
As well, three additional games have been postponed for COVID-related reasons: Columbus-Chicago on Dec. 28 and Pittsburgh-Toronto and Boston-Ottawa on Dec. 29. All other games currently scheduled, beginning with those on Dec. 28, remain slotted to be played on their scheduled dates.
The League and NHLPA will continue to monitor test results and teams’ readiness to play over the coming days and weeks. A variety of factors will be considered when assessing whether a game should be postponed — including the number of players unavailable to a team due to COVID, the risk of further COVID transmission within a team, a Club’s access to Players from its minor league affiliate, and positional roster issues that may arise due to Player shortages, among other factors. The health and safety of all Players and Club Personnel remain the number one priority and games will continue to be postponed to the extent health and safety concerns warrant.
The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to the formation of a “Taxi Squad” in order to provide Clubs with readily-available Players who can be recalled to the NHL in order to minimize the chances that Clubs have to play shorthanded or games have to be postponed due to pandemic-related issues. Specifically:
* Clubs will be permitted to form Taxi Squads on a temporary basis beginning on Dec. 26, 2021 (subject to Holiday Roster Freeze restrictions), and lasting through the date of their final game prior to the scheduled dates for the 2022 All-Star Break. After each Club’s final game before the All-Star Break, its Taxi Squad will dissolve. Clubs may then recall or Reassign the Players that were assigned to the Taxi Squad.
* Clubs will be permitted to assign a maximum of six (6) Players to their Taxi Squad. All such assignments will be subject to Waiver requirements as applicable. No individual Player may spend more than twenty (20) cumulative days on the Taxi Squad during the temporary formation period.
* Players on Loan to the Taxi Squad will be permitted to travel and practice with the NHL Club, however, such Players 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). Although not all Players on Loan to the Taxi Squad are required to travel to all away games, it is recommended that a sufficient number of Taxi Squad Players travel with the Club to ensure an adequate number of Players are available for Recalls as may be necessary.
TEMPORARY CBA MODIFICATIONS
The NHLPA and NHL have also agreed to the following modifications to the CBA, effective as of Dec. 26, 2021, and continuing through the remainder of the 2021-22 Season (a full copy of the CBA modifications can be found in the attached):
* A Club shall be permitted to recall a Player pursuant to the Roster Emergency Exception with an Averaged Amount (if calculated exclusive of Exhibit 5 Performance Bonuses) that is no more than $1,000,000. For purposes of clarity, any Performance Bonuses earned by a Player recalled pursuant to Section 50.10(e) shall be included in determining a Club’s Performance Bonus Overage for the 2022-23 season.
* If a Club has fewer than two (2) goaltenders on its Active Roster who are able to play in the Club’s next Regular Season game due to injury or illness, it will be permitted to recall a goaltender immediately without the Club playing the previous game with fewer than two (2) goaltenders.
Additionally, should both goaltenders on a Club’s Playing Roster become incapacitated during an NHL Game, the Club will similarly be permitted to immediately recall a goaltender for purposes of playing in such NHL Game.
* If a Club has fewer than twelve (12) forwards or six (6) defensemen on its Active Roster who are able to play in its next Regular Season game specifically by virtue of Players being unavailable due to COVID-19 Protocol, such Club will be permitted to recall Players at the deficient positions without the Club having to play the previous game with fewer than 18 skaters.