After a 13-hour marathon session that lasted until 5 a.m. local time in New York City, the NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement to end the lockout and sign a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. This was perhaps the most ridiculous work stoppage in sports history, one that lasted nearly four months and led to an extremely truncated season, but the most important thing now is that it is over and we can finally get back to playing hockey.
The big news is that the NHL could possibly play a 50-game season that would begin on Jan. 15, depending on how quickly the new CBA can be ratified by the players and the owners. Accordingly, training camp could begin anywhere from this Wednesday to Saturday. If camps don't begin until late this week, then we'll likely have a 48-game season that begins on Jan. 19.
So, what exactly does this new deal look like? What was this months-long fight over? Let's take a look at the details that we know so far.
- The new CBA has a term of 10 years with a mutual opt-out clause after eight years.
- 50-50 split between Hockey Related Revenues using the same definitions of the last CBA.
- Contract term lengths limited to seven years, with teams allowed to sign own players to eight years.
- A 35 percent year-to-year variance limit on new contracts.
- Lowest valued year cannot be less than 50 percent of the highest year.
- Year 1 salary cap will be set at $60 million although teams spend up to $70.2 million. Year 1 salary cap floor will be set at $44 million. All numbers are prorated for the shortened season.
- Year 2 salary cap set at $64.3 million, with no cap on player escrow.
- Free agency will once again begin on July 1, after owners wanted July 10.
In the end, it's clear that the owners made the biggest movement at the very end to ensure a deal was made. There are reports that Gary Bettman and the league were under a tremendous amount of pressure from sponsors to get a deal completed sooner than later. It certainly seems as if things were completed sooner than expected, especially with the threat of disclaimer being held over the negotiations.
Player pensions were the biggest issue for the players and the only gain made by the players when compared to the last CBA. The players had previously operated in a system that paid a lump-sum pension fund amount after 400 games played; the new pension system will be based on what the MLB uses with the NHL responsible for any losses occurred with the fund.
There's no doubting that it was the players who took the biggest hit with this new CBA and hopefully this fact is what led to the NHL making the final moves at the end to ensure a deal was reached. While the owners might have "conceded" at some points at the end, they were the big winners of this new deal.
There will be many more details to go over with the new CBA, as the NHL introduced a number of small changes with its comprehensive proposal from last week. We'll be diving into those details early this week, once they become known.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr met briefly with the media on Sunday morning to announce the deal. Bettman was obviously not interested in fielding questions from the media but Fehr spoke up, when asked by the media about the fans.
"Hopefully within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us," said Fehr.