Back From Whirlwind Summer

By Mark Simon
Special to
Oct 17, 2003

This was, without a doubt, the most eventful off-season in the history of the ECHL. Before the puck was even dropped for season No. 16, there was much that had to be settled off the ice. The end result is that the game is the same, but the league has both a new look and a new name, and what it promises as an exciting future.

Among the highlights of the off-season

* The league came to terms with the Professional Hockey Players Association on a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement, settling a six-week off-season strike by the union just prior to the opening of training camps.

Provisions included a $10,000 weekly salary cap for the team (raised to $10,500 in the third year), a newly created salary minimum of $8,000 per week for the team, nine months of health insurance coverage for players and their families, maintaining the maximum four veterans per roster rule (veterans defined as players who had played 288 professional games in the first two years, 260 games in the third year), allowing more free agency by permitting teams to keep the rights to only eight players by making qualifying offers in the off-season (in previous seasons, teams could retain the rights to as many players as they wanted), and reductions in player per diem and the playoff bonus pool.

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