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Zeitgeist: Even more activities prohibited during the NHL's holiday break

Oooh. You in trouble.

Nobody told me I couldn't toboggan.
Nobody told me I couldn't toboggan.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Although no games were played between Dec. 24th and Dec. 26th, NHL teams were very active. Unfortunately, they weren't supposed to be.

The NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement rule 16.5-b specifies that teams are prohibited from traveling or holding practices or other activities during the league's three-day holiday break. But some teams skirted the rules and were reprimanded.

First, the Anaheim Ducks are being investigated for allegedly holding a practice during the league's holiday break. The team maintains it was informal among players and not official. The New Jersey Devils face a similar circumstance with a practice session during the break. Then, this weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers were fined for traveling to Nashville on December 26th to prepare for their game against the Predators. The amount of the fine is unknown.

But 16.5-b isn't the only rule the CBA has for that period of the calendar. There are several sub-rules, and teams and players have broken them in the past to much less fanfare. We've gone through the CBA and the NHL's archive to find out just what the rules are and when teams faced the league's wrath for breaking them.

(Rule 16.5-b, article i)

Clubs and Players are prohibited from shopping at any malls, stores or flea markets (indoor or outdoor) during times of high holiday volume. Any Players trapped in a mall on Christmas Eve must immediately call the local police to request an escort home. Players are encouraged to do their holiday shopping during the summer offseason.

Has anyone broken it? In 2007, Philadelphia's Lasse Kukkanen had to be airlifted via helicopter out of Pennsylvania's King of Prussia Mall after trying to buy a copy of Spider-Man 3 on DVD on Christmas Eve for teammate Martin Biron. As punishment, the Flyers were forced to watch Spider-Man 3 continuously during a four-game road trip.

(Rule 16.5-b, article ii)

Clubs may not organize any "Secret Santa" parties or similar gift-giving events during the Holiday Break. Any Players disappointed with a gift received from a teammate during a 'Secret Santa" party must file a grievance with the Players Association before Dec. 24.

Has anyone broken it? No grievances have ever been filed but in 2001, several Nashville Predators - Scott Hartnell, Cale Hulse, Stu Grimson and Reid Simpson - came to blows over a Secret Santa party and were banned from any further team holiday events.

(Rule 16.5-b, article iii)

Clubs and Players may not organize any informal or "pick-up" games that take place outdoors during the Holiday Break. Only outdoor games scheduled, advertised, organized, presented, promoted and priced by the NHL may take place with NHL Players and member Clubs.

Has anyone broken it? No, but if they don't get an outdoor game soon, the Minnesota Wild might be put on the NHL's Outlaw Outdoor Game Watch List.

(Rule 16.5-b, article iv)

No tobogganing.

Has anyone broken it? You think Rick DiPietro injured his knee at the All Star game in 2008? Think again.

(Rule 16.5-b, article v)

Players are limited to one (1) piece of holiday cake or three (3) holiday cookies per day of the Holiday Break. Any Player found to be consuming more than the allowed amount of cake and cookies will be subject to one (1) game missed due to a "lower body injury" or one (1) week at Gary Roberts training camp during the offseason.

Has anyone broken it? The players don't call this the "Dustin Byfuglien Rule" for nothing. As of this season, Byfuglien has yet to enroll at Roberts' Club for Masochists.

(Rule 16.5-b, article vi)

Players diagnosed with maladies including, but not limited to, the common cold, influenza, whooping cough, strep throat, ear infections, runny nose, infectious mononucleosis, Scarlet Fever, dry heaves, pneumonia or the mumps are prohibited from fraternizing with teammates until cleared by team doctors or until a full body contamination suit is issued them by the United States Surgeon General.

Has anyone broken it? The NHL has already levied an undisclosed fine to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


This is all fake, these passages don't appear in the CBA. Don't be silly. But I hear Rick DiPietro does love tobogganing.