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All-Star Game and Bye Week Rules

What will the Leafs get fined for this time?

Empty lounge chairs on Playa Hemingway beach near Juan Dolio Photo by: Marica van der Meer/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The NHL brought in the concept of a bye-week a few years ago, and when they negotiated the extension to current CBA in the form of the Memo of Understanding in 2020, they formalized the rules around the days off each NHL team gets.

Each team gets a break of “not less than eight days between scheduled NHL Regular Season Games during the period beginning five days before the NHL All-Star Game Weekend and ending five days after...”

For the Leafs, they play their last game on Wednesday, February 1 at home to Boston, and return to play on Friday, February 10 on the road in Columbus. The entire period of off days is a break from all hockey obligations.

(ii) Each day of the Break shall be a day off for all purposes, except to the extent that the Players selected to participate in the All-Star Game Weekend events may have obligations during that period. A Club that commences its Break preceding All-Star Game Weekend may schedule its first post-Break practice to begin no earlier than 2:00 p.m. local time on the first day following the All-Star break, and a Club that commences its Break following the All-Star Game Weekend may schedule its first post Break practice to begin no earlier than 2:00 p.m. local time on the fifth day following the All-Star break. Subject to prior consultation with their Club to the extent reasonably practicable, Players shall be excused from the first post-Break practice if unforeseen travel delays or other compelling circumstances prevent them from participating. Further, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary elsewhere in the CBA, any Player who participates in the All-Star Game Weekend events will be excused, at his option, from attending the first post-Break practice.

Since the ASG Weekend actually starts on the Friday, the Leafs are a team with their break after the ASG. Five days after the ASG game is the day of the game in Columbus. So the first practice will be at 2 pm on that day.

As for travel, we have vague wording! Leafs, get your chequebook out:

(iii) To the extent that a Club’s first post-Break game is scheduled to take place on the road, such Club may schedule its team transportation to the game city at a reasonable departure time on the day before the game in order to accommodate its holding a practice in the game city no earlier than 2:00 p.m. local time that day. Players will have no obligation to make use of the team transportation and may choose instead to arrange their own transportation to meet the team in the game city in time for the 2:00 p.m. (or later) local time scheduled practice.

We can all spend our free time debating the meaning of reasonable, a word the entire legal profession is built on. The Leafs will be on the beach, they don’t care.

To emphasize what this means, players cannot be made to report to the team facility over this break for practice or training. There is nothing in this language which prevents medical care at team facilities from taking place, however.

Given the timing of the ASG and bye-weeks this year, trades are likely to start happening fairly quickly after the teams return to action. The bye-week isn’t a week off for GMs, after all.

Players can be loaned to the AHL in the normal manner, but only on the last day of NHL activity. No one has to hop on a plane from Grand Cayman to go join an AHL team. This is not a trade or waiver freeze, however, so any player transactions can take place. The players just don’t need to report until the week is over.

And now you know how this works.

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