Hockey Operations (EHOP) 645

Hockey Operations

HCKY 645

Delivery Mode: Paced

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: None

Faculty: Faculty of Business

Program: Certified Hockey Professional Designation

Manager: Teresa Rose

Course Overview

This course serves as an introduction to and overview of hockey operations, with the prime focus on teams in the National Hockey League (NHL). The centerpiece of the course is the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the NHL, which describes the rules and regulations governing both the business behind and the playing of professional hockey for NHL teams. As would be expected, the CBA is highly detailed and covers many topics. To help summarize and focus the key ideas, the course is arranged by topic from the CBA and is typically addressed in two ways:

  • There is a brief overview and summary of the topic in slide show form, which provides the highlights and serves as a quick reference on the topic.
  • This is followed by a more detailed deep dive into the material, which is directly annotated from the CBA itself.

These topics are supplemented by other topics related to the operation of a hockey franchise that is typically covered through course notes, articles or chapters from various sources, and videos on the subject from YouTube.

To better conceptualize the information on hockey operations and to make the experience a bit more real, each student will adopt a different NHL team for the duration of the course. Your individual assignment, which is due at the conclusion of the course, is based on applying the concepts and topics from the CBA and other material we cover to your team. Through this structure, you will be able to research and relate the key areas of study to an actual NHL organization. In the process, you will be able to provide an overview of the current state of that organization and offer suggestions and ideas for how that team should proceed into the future to attempt to be a successful franchise, both on and off the ice. Group projects will allow for collaboration and learning between the students. The first group project covers recent trends and analysis related to the NHL Draft, and the second group project provides an opportunity to argue (from both sides) salary arbitration cases related to current eligible NHL players.

Each of the eight lessons of the course aims to introduce topics related to a certain phase of hockey operations. There are some exceptions, as not all topics fit nicely into a given category, but the goal is to discuss a certain area of the CBA or related ideas. Lesson 1 focuses on the structure of an NHL team's front office, coaching staff, and scouting staff, in addition to a background on the minor league structure in place for NHL teams and an overview of the player compensation cost redistribution system (revenue sharing). Lesson 2 focuses on player development, both pre-NHL and after players have been drafted; a brief overview of the top professional leagues in Europe; and rules from the CBA on international hockey and training camp.

Lesson 3 discusses the art of scouting players, notes the role of the Central Scouting Bureau, and provides the rules and regulations of the NHL Entry Draft, the NHL Expansion Draft, and the details of the Standard Player Contract. Lesson 4 steps into the world of hockey analytics and discusses the formulation and use of player analytics as are reported directly by the NHL and through independent websites for both skaters and goaltenders. Lesson 5 provides information on entry-level contracts, one-way and two-way deals, bridge contracts, offer sheets, and the CBA rules governing endorsements, sponsorships, and licensing. Lesson 6 covers salary arbitration and free agency, while Lesson 7 focuses on the upper and lower limits on NHL teams (salary cap and floor) in addition to noting the difference between a player’s actual salary and his cap hit. Lesson 8 deals with roster rules, including overviews of the active roster, injured reserve, reserve lists, and waivers.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate detailed awareness of the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • describe the organizational structure of an NHL front office.
  • evaluate young player development options, including Canadian Major Junior and U.S. NCAA hockey.
  • identify the structure of the minor league system for the NHL and the relative quality of other leagues around the world.
  • demonstrate awareness of the rules of the NHL Entry Draft and the process that goes into evaluating talent for the draft.
  • identify the key properties of a Standard Player’s Contract, rules for entry level deals, the concept of bridge contracts, and differences between one-way and two-way player contracts.
  • evaluate the analytics being used to measure team, skater, and goaltender performance and identify how analytics can be used to build a successful roster.
  • describe the rules for offer sheets, offer sheet compensation, and salary arbitration
  • identify the rules surrounding restricted and unrestricted free agency in the NHL.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the rules of the team payroll range system in establishing the upper limit and lower limit on team player salaries.
  • describe the use of injured reserve and waivers as it relates to the roster of an NHL team.

Course Materials

No textbook is used in this course. A series of slideshows, online articles, videos, and book excerpts are provided in the course’s Digital Reading Room (DRR) as required readings. Supplementary readings, websites, and videos are also provided in the DRR.

Course Outline

The course is divided into eight parts, as follows:

Week Topic
1 Overview of NHL Organizations
2 Player Development
3 Scouting, NHL Draft, and Competitive Balance
4 Hockey Analytics
5 Player Contracts
6 Salary Arbitration and Free Agency
7 Paying Players – Upper and Lower Limit
8 NHL Rosters, Injured Reserve, and Waivers

Course Evaluation

As noted in the Course Overview above, students will select an active NHL team to use as a focus for their course assignments, particularly the Individual Assignment.

To receive a passing grade in this course, you must meet these minimum standards:

  • receive a minimum of 60% on the participation component (i.e., Weekly Discussions); and
  • receive an average grade of 60% over all course components (i.e., Group Projects 1 and 2, Individual Assignment, and the participation component).
  • earn at least 60 percent on the Final Assignment (i.e., 24 out of 40 marks)

Marks for this course will be distributed as follows:

Activity Weighting
Weekly Discussions (Weeks 1-8) 40%
Group Project 1 15%
Group Project 2 15%
Individual Assignment 30%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.