In this edition of Stars’ News & Rumors, the NHL & NHLPA agree to new Collective Bargaining Agreement terms, Dallas closes its practice and adds eight players to the COVID list, and more.
NHL CBA Changes
With the current spike of COVID in the NHL, the league announced a few changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The changes resemble those of the 2020 Edmonton bubble during the Stanley Cup Playoffs way back in the early days of the virus. Essentially, teams will have more wiggle room when it comes to calling up players and will be allowed to carry more guys on their roster for when issues arise.
For goaltenders, each team will be allowed to add one additional goalie if two of their regulars are not available. The ‘Taxi Squad’ is back until the All-Star break, as teams will be able to carry up to six additional players on their roster. None of these players will be allowed to stay for more than 20 days and the players can travel and practice with the team although they will still be paid their American Hockey League salary (plus a $500 stipend per day.) Lastly, teams that are in danger of dressing fewer than two goalies, six defensemen, or 12 forwards, will be able to make emergency recalls as long as the recalled players do not exceed a salary cap hit of $1 million.
These changes allow each team the ability to finish their remaining schedule the best they can as the league hopes to eliminate the need for any full pauses going forward.
Stars Hit With COVID
Unfortunately, the Dallas Stars could not hide from the virus forever as they have added eight players and two support staff members to the COVID-protocol list over the last week.
The news forced a massive change in their schedule, a schedule that had already seen postponements due to league issues recently. First, the Stars game versus the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 22 was postponed to avoid cross-border travel, then the NHL decided to pause until after Christmas, postponing the Stars versus Chicago Blackhawks matchup set for Dec. 23. Since Christmas, they have seen three games postponed due to their own COVID issues and now will not play a game until after the New Year. No games and closed practices have been tough for Dallas and the entire NHL, but the only thing they can do is roll with it.
“I was looking forward to going into Chicago and getting a road win, and that’s obviously not happening,” Bowness said of the shutdown. “We’re still kind of digesting it, the whole thing here. I just heard about it after the game, so we’ve got to digest the game, and then we’ll figure out what we’re doing. We’re not doing anything until December 26 at two o’clock.”
The news has hit the team hard as they have seen COVID issues both in the NHL and AHL and continue to feel the effects. While each NHL team has dealt with similar issues throughout the season, it will be important to see how the Stars adapt when they finally hit the ice once again.
Looking Ahead For Dallas
To put it simply, there is no telling when the Stars will play their next game. According to the schedule, they will travel to face the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 2. Either way, the team now faces a minimum of five games that need to be rescheduled. Due to the earlier news of the NHL skipping the Olympics, these games will likely be rescheduled during that time in February.
Dallas is currently riding a two-game winning streak, although those games felt like months ago. They own a 15-12-2 record, sit just four points out of the final Wild Card, and are only seven points back of second place in the Central Division, with games in hand. What does all of this mean? The season is there for the taking, If the Stars can find that balance of consistent effort, goal scoring, and their overall defensive game, there is nothing stopping them from making a run in the second half of the season and into the playoffs. If not, there will be some very different conversations happening around March.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!