It had taken 113 days and during that time, a lot of anger was displayed (mostly from yours truly) but after all the drama, all the times we thought a season would be salvaged only to have those hopes dashed and all the times the frustrated fans said, “Just cancel the season already,” the dreaded NHL lockout is finally over.
The new CBA will last for 10 years and here is what it includes according to TSN.ca:
- 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 pro-rated). 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 per cent and the final year cannot vary more than 50 per cent 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 weighting 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 spread 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.
According to TSN analysts Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger, we will either see a 48- or a 50-game season and if it’s the latter, then the season will begin on January 15 and if we see a 48-game schedule (like the 1994-95 season), then the puck will officially drop on January 19. Also like the 1994-95 season, all games will be inter-conference matchups, so the only time a team from the East will meet a team from the West will be in Stanley Cup Final which, due to the delay, won’t be happening until late June.
Overall, it’s a good day. It’s relieving more than anything to know that a new CBA has been agreed upon and we can all look forward to a new (albeit abbreviated) season.
There are fans who said they didn’t care if the NHL would return this season and would boycott the game. To those fans, I can definitely understand their frustration as I was once in the same boat. But to the fans who will come back, both the NHL and the Player’s Association ought to think twice about how grateful they are for having a fanbase so loyal and so patient.
The puck drops soon and most of all, we will finally get to see the Los Angeles Kings raise their much-deserved Stanley Cup banner and more importantly, we will get to see them rightfully defend their crown.
Photo: Courtesy of Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press