It’s a great day for hockey fans and perhaps a greater day for sanctimonious fans who insist they’ll never return. The former has a chance to finally dig in to some NHL hockey and the latter can feel high and mighty for not watching the NHL brand (and secretly watching the NHL brand to not-so-discreetly return a few games in to the new season).
That’s right, kids, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association have reached what is being safely and carefully termed a “tentative deal” on a new collective bargaining agreement. The deal still needs to be ratified and documented and some particulars need to be announced, but it’s probably safe to say that hockey will be returning to NHL rinks soon.
“We have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said early Sunday morning. “I want to thank Don Fehr. We still have more work to do, but it’s good to be at this point.”
So here’s what we know so far:
The NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to a $64.3 million salary cap in the second year of the deal, up from the $60 million the league was asking for. The salary cap floor is at $44 million in that year. Revenue sharing will be at $200 million, with a $60 million growth fund written in.
The new CBA is a 10-year deal. An opt-out is at the eighth year, which is good news for longevity’s sake because it ensures we won’t be back here throwing this issue around in another four years. The deal is no Band-Aid.
Player contracts have term limits of seven years (or eight years for a club already signing its own player).
14 teams will be “fully eligible” for the first overall pick at the draft lottery and the current weighting system for the draft will remain in play. Also, supplemental discipline will go through disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan first and a Gary Bettman-led appeals process. Suspensions of more than six games will fall to a “neutral” third party.
As far as when hockey will start on the NHL level, sources say that there are 50-game seasons and 48-game seasons drawn up. If the league wants to pull off the latter, it’ll need to be on ice no later than January 19. The Olympics are also an issue, but they’ll fall outside the new CBA and both sides with discuss it with the IIHF later on. There’s a desire to continue to participate, but the particulars will be handled at a later date.
As of right now, it’s thought that an abbreviated training camp will commence on Wednesday or Thursday, but ratification could have an impact on that. Clearly teams will want to get their stuff together as soon as they can and start moving tickets.