We regularly see the production of NHL players explode just before they negotiate a contract, then drop once they commit for several years. I notice that there are not many contracts with performance bonuses. It seems to me that this would be a way to ensure more consistent player performance. Why not make more use of this contractual tool?

Basically, you are right, it is a tool that could be interesting. It would be especially so for the teams, which would thus free themselves from a large part of the risk linked to a contract. If we see few performance bonuses, it is because they are reserved for three categories of players: those who sign their entry-level contract in the NHL, those aged 35 and over, and veterans who come back from a very long injury. If we wanted to widen their use, it would have to be included in the next collective agreement binding the players to the league. It is also important to mention that these contracts can represent a risk for the teams as well, since the “signing bonuses” (signing bonuses), if a club does not have the salary space necessary at the end of the season to honor them, are automatically carried over to the following year, with no additional extension possible. The Boston Bruins, for example, are already guaranteed to pay out $4.5 million in deferred bonuses next season. It’s far from ideal.

In the various professional leagues operating under a salary cap, is there an investigation mechanism to ensure that a player does not benefit from advantages in order to compensate for a lower salary and give more flexibility to his organization ? For example a home, a vehicle…

Coincidentally, the popular Sportsnet podcast 32 Thoughts touched on this topic recently. Well-known journalist Elliotte Friedman rightly explained that possible benefits are scrupulously scrutinized so that teams do not offer a player a contract at a discount in order to offer him bonuses, financial or material, which would not be counted on the payroll. Friedman pointed out that questions had even been raised when, at the start of his career, Sidney Crosby was lodged for four years with Mario Lemieux. In short, you never know, but it seems that this practice is monitored.

Is there an NHL rule prohibiting injured players from giving interviews? It seems to me that it would be interesting to hear them, especially if the rehabilitation period is long.

No, there is no such rule. Each team has a specific policy on this, and this practice is becoming more and more widespread in the NHL. We journalists hate it.

Why is the player’s bench in baseball always lower than the level of the field? Is it due to a rule, or a long tradition carried over to baseball’s rich history?

This is simply to avoid obstructing the view of spectators who pay top dollar to be close to the pitch. If, in major league baseball, the dugouts are dug in the ground, in the amateur ranks, we also find them at the level of the field.

It seems to me that there are a lot of injuries, and serious injuries, which require long weeks of recovery, in the NHL this season. Are there more than in years past? Do you have yearly statistics on this?

The statistic is difficult to verify, as the compilation of injuries is done primarily by team, rarely NHL-wide. The best source is the NHL Injury Viz site, but the presentation requires concentration (see link below). At first glance, then, it seems that this season, while above the average of the last 20 years, is not particularly abnormal. Even excluding absences due to COVID-19, there were more missed games due to injury last season. The 2010-2011 and 2003-2004 campaigns also had higher figures than this season. The numbers for the 2021-2022 season are hardly surprising, as the schedule had been disrupted by the Omicron holiday wave, and the off-season had been shorter than usual. This year’s injury count is harder to explain at first glance and would make a nice case for sports medicine students, for example!