"December 24, Christmas Day, and December 26 shall be off-days for all purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player's consent to practice on such days for any reason, provided, however, if December 26 falls on a Saturday and the League has scheduled NHL Games on such date, December 23 may be substituted as an off-day for all purposes, including travel, instead of December 26."That's Article 16.5(b) of the newly-agreed to NHL-NHL Players Association collective bargaining agreement. And I think it's great.
Why do I feel this way? Simple. It's an incredibly long season, with training camp starting in September and ending in mid-April if your team doesn't make the playoffs...mid-June if you're fortunate enough to make the Stanley Cup Finals. You're generally playing between two and four games a week during that stretch, with morning skates and full practices in most of the off-days. The offseason conditioning pretty much starts as soon as the season ends.
Being an NHL player isn't a 9-to-5, Monday to Friday job. It's a crazy life commitment. A crazy life commitment for five to six years, granted, but still...it's crazy.
So a few days off to celebrate Christmas - especially for the many players with young families - that's significant. It's humane. It's good. For whatever I think about these well-compensated professionals, they are human beings...and they deserve to celebrate Christmas.
So Merry Christmas, everyone. Hope you all enjoyed your break. The pucks drop again on Friday night.