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Three games in three nights? The CBA doesn't specifically address it



Some thoughts this morning before I get on a train and head back to Newark from Philadelphia for Sunday's resumption of Friday's suspended game:

It was interesting to discover there is not a specific prohibition in the collective bargaining agreement that prohibits teams from playing three games in three nights. That is why some believed Rick Tocchet's postgame preference to play the game on Sunday would never happen -- because the CBA doesn't allow it.

But in all the ponderous legalese in the document, there apparently is no specific prohibition against playing three games in three nights. There are regulations regarding how many consecutive days players can play in preseason but not during the regular season. There is, however, Rule 16.3, which gives the Players Association the right to review the regular-season schedules the league puts together and submit  its comments and concerns, which the league must try its best to accommodate.

So, where does the perceived ban on three games in three nights come in?

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon shed some light in an e-mail:

"The NHLPA reviews the league schedule prior to it being finalized by the NHL," he wrote, "and would not approve games being played on three straight days."

Which is why Lightning GM Brian Lawton, as part of getting Sunday's game approved, was in conversations with the team's union rep, center Jeff Halpern. Which is why Halpern was in touch with the NHLPA offices, and the NHLPA was in touch with the league and the teams. The Players Association said it only gave its blessing for today's game because of the extraordinary circumstances.

Of course, if you really want to split hairs, the Lightning and Devils are not really playing three games in three nights. It's actually two games spread over three days. But the the teams are actually playing for a third straight day, and that is the bottom line for the Players Association. 

Now, on to Martins Karsums.

The forward, acquired from the Bruins in the Mark Recchi deal, is on waivers. If he clears, it seems more likely Karsums will play in Europe than remain with AHL Norfolk. It doesn't appear the Lightning has any plans to bring him to the big club. When the Lightning signed Karsums over the summer, it was with the understanding if Karsums, who will play in the Olympics for Latvia, wasn't happy with the way things were going, he could play in Europe, much like Radim Vrbata did last season. As with Vrbata, Karsums move to Europe would relieve Tampa Bay of his salary obligations. But the Lightning would still retain his rights.

Finally, good for Sun Sports for putting up some money (couldn't find out how much) so it could show tonight's game. Sun Sports will pick up the feed from the MSG network, which shows Devils games. The cost of producing one of these games apparently runs about $40,000, so Sun Sports will chip in some of that so that as compensation for picking up MSG's feed, Sun spokeswoman Amy Pempel said. She also Sun Sports could not produce the game on its own given the minimal amount of notice. The league, at about 3:30 Saturday, announced the game would be played on Sunday.  

Cannot wait to get out of the frigid northeast and come to the, well, relatively frigid south. Let's hope the lights stay on tonight at the Prudential Center.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 12:15am]


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