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What Is The Taxi Squad In Ice Hockey? Meaning Explained

By Usha Shrestha / 16 May 2023 09:49 AM

The Pittsburgh Penguins reassigned a player to the taxi squad on January 2022
Source : twitter

Taxi squad in ice hockey is a group of players who practice with the team but remain unqualified to play in official games.

The term was invented by the Cleveland Browns in the 1940s. He didn't want to let go of the promising players who couldn't make it to the NHL roster. So they were kept on the payroll of the taxi company he owned.

The title of the National Hockey League was introduced in the 2020–2021 season as the group of athletes who traveled but didn't play for their respective teams.

Every team is allowed to have four to six professional players. Yet they are set to dissolve after the last game and before the All-Star break.

The concept was planned to be exercised for a single season, but the National Hockey League announced it would restore it in December 2021.

Only the players called up entered the rink due to a positive COVID case. It forced the team to make a call immediately.

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What Does Taxi Squad Mean In Hockey?

Taxi squad in hockey means a set of players practicing with the professional team but still lacking the tag of the team's roster player.

They are called in emergencies as replacements for roster ice skaters. For example, in the 2019–2020 COVID situation, those players were assigned to prevent the maximum postponement of the games.

At the time, 50 league games had already been postponed before Christmas. The practicing team played at least until early February.

Every professional national-level sports league has a distinct meaning and motive for having a practiced athlete. For instance, in Major League Baseball, it is a set of players practicing with the active roster, and they are not counted as the team's playing members.

The New York Ranger called Morgan Barron to the NHL practice squad in December 2021
Source : twitter

Each club can carry a maximum of five players. One of them becomes a catcher and serves as the bullpen catcher. The group stays sharp to answer the call if the team needs them in a tight-spot situation.

Likewise, in the National Football League, the crowd refers to a gang of professional football players on the roster who do not count toward the overall roster limit.

They practice with the team yet remain ineligible to perform in official games like NFL seasons. Before 2014, NFL clubs only had five athletes, which grew to 10 in 2014. The number increased to 12 in 2020, and now the limit is up to 16.

How Many Players Can Be On Taxi Squad?

Six players can be on the taxi squad. NHL clubs are allowed to be at most that number and should have a minimum of four athletes.

Every team is allowed to have four to six professional players as extras. Yet they are set to dissolve after the last game and before the All-Star break.

The crew has a maximum time limit of two to three years to be on the taxi squad. After the duration ends, the team can reassign that player to the spot. Or, the team can choose to promote them to the active roster.

Drew O'Connor playing for the Penguins
Source : twitter

Or else they can't participate in official games even though they have been practicing with the team athletes. While mentioning the squad team, only five players were allowed at the beginning of the football league in the early 1930s.

Then the NFL owners voted to decide the number of expansions in 2004. Three players were added, followed by two more in 2014. Six years later, 10 reached 12, and 12 reached 14 in 2020.

Do NHL Taxi Squad Players Get Paid ?

Yes, NHL taxi players get paid. One-way contract athletes get full pay, while two-way players receive "minor" salaries.

A practice squad gets an average pay of roughly $8,000 per day. That makes his monthly earnings around $240,000. The NHL announced that the salary cap for the extras would be at most $1 million.

The minimum National Hockey League roster player wage is $750,000 annually as of the 2022–2023 season. That makes around USD 3196,767.

The Penguins recalled Olivier Joseph from the squad in emergency basis in January 2021
Source : twitter

On the other hand, the minimum payment for a practice squad in the NFL is an average of $8,400 per week. Initially, the amount was $3300, followed by $4350 in the early 2000s.

The practice squad is paid like active athletes; however, they don't get signing bonuses or guaranteed wages.

In contrast, the MBL taxi team isn't paid a salary, but they receive an allowance of around $110 per day, including their minor league salaries.

Best Taxi Squad Players In NHL

Best taxi squad players in NHL are Shane Bowers, Martin Kaut, Connor Ingram, Jeremy Davies, and others. Anthony Richard also makes the list.

While finalizing the practice squad, each team has to have one goaltender and the remaining three or six rookies that can practice as defense, winger, or center.

After the pandemic, each team in the National Hockey League recruited several rookies, some of whom have been listed below:

  • Shane Bowers
  • Bowen Byram
  • Martin Kaut
  • Conor Timmins
  • Joey Daccord
  • Kole Lind
  • Connor Ingram
  • Michael McCarron
  • Jeremy Davies
  • Rem Pitlick
  • Frederic Allard
  • Anthony Richard

A few Taxi Squads For AHL are:

  • Jeremy Bracco
  • David Cotton
  • Jason Cotton
  • Sth Jarvis
  • Stelio Mattheos
  • Jamieson Rees
  • Sheldon Rempal
  • Drew Shore
  • Spencer Smallman
  • Ryan Suzuki
  • Joey Keane
  • Maxime Lajoie
  • Antoine Bibeau

What Is The Purpose Of The NHL Taxi Squad?

The purpose of the NHL taxi squad is to provide extra athletes on hand for practices and emergency call-ups.

In the 2020 season, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to the formation of the squad with the motive that they could provide the teams with readily available ice skaters in case of emergency.

For instance, in the initial years, the reason for assigning the practice squad was to prevent a delay in the season due to the pandemic in 2019–2020. Around 67 games were already rescheduled, and the organizer didn't want to carry them back further.

The group practices and plays with the roster team in their homeland. Yet, it's uncertain whether they earn a chance to play in the official games until they are called up for some situation.

Vegas Golden Knights players cheering with teammates
Source : instagram

They are addressed as the practice squad for a reason. When a team lacks an athlete to exercise for the upcoming matches, those groups of extra athletes can cover up the lack, and the roster can operate even more smoothly.

Another motive can be the lack of space on the team due to injuries to the ice skaters or the need for more development. Secondly, the team doesn't need to compensate any former team that the players previously practiced with.

Last but not least, a well-deserved practice squad player can be assigned or promoted to the roster in the future.

It is more than just picking six ice skaters

The process of deciding the practice squad involves way more than taking up skaters who were good in training but failed to make it to the final cut.

It is not only about the players and their skill development. Their performance can determine the win or loss of the team when they are called up to the rink in the future.

Thus, none of the teams hurry to conclude their perfection and that they are ready for the NHL.  Also, the taxi team members shouldn't practice or join activities other than with the NHL team, not even with the AHL.

Instead, they can travel with the NHL team, join team activities, and practice with the NHL clubs.