The Calgary Flames are back in action on Thursday night in Seattle, playing their first game since Dec. 11 (and their first game in the United States since Dec. 7). With the return to action comes the return, at least for a little while, of the taxi squad – a group of standby players who can be used if anybody gets sick or injured.
Speaking with the virtually-assembled media on Wednesday prior to a flight to Seattle, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter declared himself not a fan of the taxi squad.
“Actually the taxi squad is, last year for that short period time I was here, was to be quite honest a pain in the ass,” said Sutter. “It’s like extra practice, some guys are travelling and some guys aren’t, and then the guys that are on the taxi squad some of them played what, three or four games the whole year. It didn’t help their careers at all. Zero.”
Sutter added that the perfect scenario may be carrying one or two extra forwards and one extra defenseman, rather than essentially expanding the roster to 28 or 29 players with a larger taxi squad group.
In the 2020-21 season, teams were required to carry between four and six players on their taxi squad (and one player had to be a goaltender). There were also no limitations for how long a player could be on the taxi squad.
As a result, a lot of players spent tons of time on the taxi squad last season and didn’t play very much:
- Zac Rinaldo: 106 taxi days, 4 games
- Oliver Kylington: 84 taxi days, 8 games
- Buddy Robinson: 73 taxi days, 9 games
- Louis Domingue: 68 taxi days, 1 game (plus another dozen games dressed as backup)
- Dominik Simon: 57 taxi days, 11 games
(Domingue, in particular, was fairly down on the whole experience when speaking to reporters at the end of the season.)
As of now, the 2021-22 taxi squad is limited to six players but there’s no minimum – teams can opt not to use it if they see fit. The taxi squad is slated to only be around until the start of the All-Star Break on Feb. 3 and players can only be on the squad for 20 days cumulatively. League regulations also prevent waiver exempt NHL regulars from being floated to the taxi squad to save cap space on off-days, something that won’t disqualify any Flames players.
Byron Froese was reportedly re-assigned to the taxi squad on Tuesday, but it’s not clear how many other players (or which ones) could be placed on the squad for the Flames’ short trip to Seattle.
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