Today is the day that hockey fans everywhere have been waiting to hear. The NHL lockout is over. There will be hockey in 2013.
After 113 days of no hockey the National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association have finally reached a tentative agreement on a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. They still have to dot some I’s and cross some T’s to make everything official.
It’s believed the regular season could start anywhere from Jan. 15 to Jan. 19, with 48 to 50 games on the schedule. That part will be determined over the next few days. If it starts on the 15th there will be a 50-game season. If they start on the 19th it will be a 48-game season. It looks like training camp will begin Jan. 12.
It is not just the fans who are excited about the lockout being over. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby told TSN. “I am happy a deal has been reached and excited to get back playing hockey,”
The elements of the deal look like this, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Aaron Ward:
- The players’ share of hockey-related revenue will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split for all 10 years.
- The league coming off their demand for a $60 million cap in Year 2, meeting the NHLPA’s request to have it at $64.3 million – which was the upper limit from last year’s cap. The salary floor in Year 2 will be $44 million.
- The upper limit on the salary cap in the first year is $60 million, but teams can spend up to $70.2 million (all prorated). The cap floor will be $44 million.
- The 10-year deal also has an opt-out clause that kicks in after eight years.
- Each team will be allowed two amnesty buyouts that can be used to terminate contracts after this season and next season. The buyouts will count against the players’ overall share in revenues, but not the team’s salary cap.
- The salary variance on contracts from year-to-year cannot vary more than 35 percent and the final year cannot vary more than 50 percent of the highest year.
- A player contract term limit for free agents will be seven years, and eight years for a team signing its own player.
- The draft lottery selection process will change with all 14 teams fully eligible for the first overall pick. The weighing system for each team may remain, but four-spot move restriction will be eliminated.
- Supplemental discipline for players in on-ice incidents will go through NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan first, followed by an appeal process that would go through Bettman. For suspensions of six or more games, a neutral third party will decide if necessary.
- Revenue sharing among teams will expand to $200 million. Additionally, an NHLPA-initiated growth fund of $60 million is included.
- Teams can only walk away from a player in salary arbitration if the award is at least $3.5 million.
- The NHL had hoped to change opening of free agency to July 10, but the players stood firm and it remains July 1 in the new agreement. But with a later ending to the season, free agency for this summer will start at a later date.
U.S. Federal Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh was instrumental in this process down the stretch, and is being credited for his involvement in the last 48 hours of negotiations. Before he came in the two sides were refusing to meet with each other and the future of hockey looked pretty grim.
On Friday, the NHL and NHLPA met separately with Beckenbaugh throughout the entire day, and did so again on Saturday morning. Then, Beckenbaugh brought the two sides together and 16 hours later a deal was announced.
The lockout began September 16 and it took a lot of work to end it. But finally the players and the fans can put this behind them and we can just drop the puck and play hockey.