Friday, December 27, 2013

In praise of the Christmas holiday break

"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.

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