The Philadelphia Flyers appear to have violated the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement by travelling during the recent holiday break, Sportsnet has learned.
The team departed for Nashville at 8:24 p.m. ET on Dec. 26, according to their flight log on FlightAware, during what is considered a restricted period for team activity in the CBA.
Article 16.5 (b) in that document states: “December 24, Christmas Day, and December 26 shall be off-days for all purposes, including travel.”
The Flyers refused comment through a spokesman when asked about the flight. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly did not respond to an email asking whether the team was under investigation.
The league has been busy looking into a number of incidents from Dec. 26 — a day when NHL games were traditionally played until a change was made in the most recent CBA. Under the deal ratified in January 2013, the holiday break was extended to three days.
Members of the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers held informal skates on Dec. 26, but those organizations were cleared of any wrongdoing by the league because coaches weren’t on the ice and team officials were found to have played no part in organizing the activities.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf took responsibility for the skate in Anaheim and the NHL wrapped up its investigation of that situation on Friday.
“We are satisfied that the team was in compliance with the guidelines and protocol previously provided by the league for ‘off day’ activities,” Daly told the Los Angeles Times.
Philadelphia’s Dec. 26 flight appears to directly contradict the rules.
The NHL sent out a memo in early December reminding teams about the guidelines for the holiday break and there is no evidence that any of the other 12 visitors for games on Dec. 27 travelled early.
Ten of them took flights that morning, departing between 6 a.m. and 9:44 a.m. local time, according to FlightAware. The Devils travelled by bus for their game against the Rangers. San Jose’s flight tracking data isn’t publicly available.
It’s unclear what kind of penalty, if any, the Flyers could face from the NHL.
There isn’t any precedent for this specific transgression. CBA violations have been relatively few and far between in recent years, although the Los Angeles Kings were fined $100,000 on Dec. 2 for allowing suspended defenceman Slava Voynov to skate with the team.
While it’s rare for NHL teams to travel on the day of a game during the regular season, the main reason for having everyone follow the same protocol coming out of the holiday break is to protect competitive balance.
The Flyers, however, didn’t realize any tangible advantage from their early flight. They were beaten 4-1 by the Predators on Dec. 27.