With the world still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and the new omicron variant, the NHL and NHLPA announced Sunday the return of the taxi squad as well as other temporary changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The taxi squad was a new invention for the 2021 season allowing teams to carry a handful of players who did not count against the salary cap who could be ready to play in case a sudden outbreak left a team with holes to fill in the lineup. Now with positive cases surging across the league, the taxi squad is back.
Taxi squads will consist of up to six players with no player spending more the 20 cumulative days on the squad. Anyone on the squad will be permitted to travel with the team, but can only play in a game if added to the team's active roster before the 5 p.m. deadline on the day of a game. Per the league's release, the taxi squads are permitted to last through each team's final game prior to the All-Star Break, for now, at which point the squad must dissolve and all players are reassigned.
The other changes announced Sunday are that teams will now be able to recall players with a cap hit of no more than $1 million as emergency exceptions. These recalls can be made if a team has fewer than 12 forwards or six defensemen on the active roster without the team having to first play short a man for a game. Teams will also be able to recall a goalie immediately if it has fewer than two on the active roster, again without having to play the previous game short.
The news comes in the wake of 44 new players entering the league's COVID-19 protocol coming out of the holiday break. The Capitals game scheduled for Monday against the Ottawa Senators was already postponed as of Friday. The team's next scheduled game is on Wednesday when it is set to host the Nashville Predators.