Yesterday, late in the afternoon and with Ron Hainsey and Roman Polak both sick, the Leafs called up Justin Holl on an emergency basis. This is not a loophole, it’s not pushing the envelope on the rules, it’s a feature of the CBA designed to make sure teams always play with a full roster of players.
The main feature of emergency recall is that the player called up does not have to clear waivers when he returns to the AHL, regardless of his waiver status at the time, as long as he plays less than 10 NHL games.
This is very similar to the rules for any recalled player. They get nine games and 29 calendar days on an NHL roster.
The emergency recall count of nine games is a separate count. So imagine a player who has been recalled and played in seven NHL games. If he’s recalled again and plays three or more games, he requires waivers. But, if the second recall is under the emergency rules, the games don’t get added to his cumulative total from his first recall.
Emergency recalls are also exempt from the Holiday Roster Freeze rules. And, as always, the goaltender rules are a bit different to account for the need for a backup to be dressed even if they don’t play.
Emergency is defined this way:
(m) Emergency Recall.
(i) A Player on Loan to a club of any league affiliated with the League may be Recalled from such Loan under emergency conditions at any time for the duration of the emergency only following which he must be returned promptly to the club from which he was Recalled.
(ii) Emergency conditions shall be established when the playing strength of the Loaning Club, by reason of incapacitating injury or illness or by League suspension to its Players is reduced below the level of two (2) goalkeepers, six (6) defensemen and twelve (12) forwards. Proof of the existence of the emergency conditions including the incapacity shall be furnished to the Commissioner of the League upon request made by him.
(iii) For the purpose of establishing the existence of emergency conditions at any time, to support the Recall of a Player for participation in any Playoff Game, it shall be deemed that the Player(s) on Loan following 3:00 p.m. New York time of the fortieth (40th) day immediately preceding the last day of the Regular Season are continuing on Loan for the remainder of the season notwithstanding that the Loaned club(s) may have been eliminated from further play for the season.
-Article 13 Section 12 of the CBA
So by having both Ron Hainsey and Roman Polak ill at the same time, there were less than six defenders on the roster. But there were 23 players on the playing roster, and it was reported that Roman Polak was placed on IR to make room for Holl.
This is the part that is confusing:
Babcock said Hainsey and Polak have "upset stomachs, throwing up all day."— Dave McCarthy (@DaveAMcCarthy) February 1, 2018
Didn't think they were coming on the trip. May fly out in the morning but won't be flying with the team. "We don't need them to be contagious and get more people sick." #TMLTalk #NHL
I can’t find anything to support an exemption to the IR rules:
I believe because it was an emergency recall of Holl due to the fact the illnesses put Leafs below the required number of healthy defencemen (6), Polak can return the next game if he's better, and Holl would have to immediately return to the minors. https://t.co/zGOlz6jsxM— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 1, 2018
That doesn’t mean it’s not there, it just means the maze-like CBA is difficult to parse, and there are other rules not contained within the CBA. It’s possible that Polak was never placed on the Injured Reserve list, which requires a player to miss seven days. It’s possible there is an illness exemption to the 23-man limit that allowed Holl to be called up, but I can’t find that either.
If we get clarification on any of that, we’ll update this post, but in the meantime Holl is definitely enjoying his stay on the Leafs.