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Dammit! I missed the Puck Daddy Live Chat!

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But I will edit myself into it after the fact.

Puck Daddy's Hockey Rumors Live Chat - Puck Daddy - NHL  - Yahoo! Sports

[Comment From OC Kings Fan:] Question for the experts : I understand the Blackhawks are over the cap... What would happen to a team if it starts the season over the cap? Do they have to forfeit their games?

Wyshynski: If a team starts the season over the cap, they're forced to post a photo of Ken Hitchcock naked on the side of their arena.

Spector: OK, seriously, Greg, what are the penalities?

Wyshynski: I still don't buy Chicago's trading Sharp.

Spector: Isn't the overage deducted from their cap for the following season?

Wyshynski: There are deduction penalties, but like more [sic; most?] CBA penalties it's all a bit nebulous. I know, you're shocked.

Since the CBA prohibits league approval of any transaction that causes a team to exceed the upper limit (cap ceiling), it is simply not possible for a team to exceed the cap ceiling by any action during the year. (It's theoretically possible for the league to approve a deal that in retrospect it shouldn't have, and so, in the voiding of that deal, a team might find itself over the cap -- in that highly unlikely scenario, the team would be instructed to rectify the cap situation ASAP, in addition to any penalties for circumvention; since both exceeding the limit and the voided contract/deal would be violations.)

The only time a team can exceed the cap ceiling without a specific transaction causing the overage is, at the end of the off-season, when the temporary 10% increase is lifted, and teams need to conform to the actual upper limiit. If a team fails to do so, they are in circumvention of the CBA.

The CBA doesn't say specifically what must happen as a result of a circumvention of the salary cap limits. It all comes down to...wait for it...the Commissioner's descretion. Here is what he can do, per 26.13(c)(i-vii):

[Note: I trimmed out some of the remedies that have to do with bad acts by a player, since that obviously doesn't pertain to the topic of exceeding the cap ceiling]

In the event that the System Arbitrator finds that a Circumvention has been committed by a Club or a Club Actor, the Commissioner may impose any or all of the following penalties and/or remedies set forth below:

  • (i) Impose a fine of up to $5 million. If such a fine is assessed against a Club [...] that Club's Payroll Room shall also be reduced by such amount for the following League Year [...]
  • (iii) Direct a Club to forfeit draft picks (the number, placement, and League Year of which shall be determined in the Commissioner's sole discretion);
  • (iv) Declare a forfeiture of any NHL Game(s) determined to have been affected by a Circumvention; [...]
  • (vi) Void any SPC, or any extension of an SPC [...] found to [be in] violation; and
  • (vii) Suspend any Club employee, Player, or Certified Agent involved in such a violation for a period of time determined in the sole discretion of the Commissioner, the System Arbitrator, or the NHLPA, respectively.