NHL and NHLPA reach tentative deal to end lockout (Updated)

Update 12:30 PMMajor deal points from TSN and the NY Times:

  • The revenue share split is 50-50 of HRR (hockey related revenue)
  • While the salary cap remains at $64.3 million, the salary floor is $44 million.
  • An NBA-style amnesty provision has been inserted into the CBA to allow teams to drop salaries to get under the cap. Each team has two amnesty buyouts it can use to cut high salaries.
  • To keep teams from structuring deals that would circumvent the cap, no single player contract can have a year-to-year raise of more than 35%, and the highest salaried year can be no more than 50% above the lowest salaried year.
  • Revenue sharing from rich to poor teams will grow to $200 million. (I assume this is annual.)
  • The 50-game schedule would start January 15. The 48-game schedule would commence January 19.
  • Specifics regarding pro participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia remain missing. Those are to be determined after the CBA is ratified. (My guess – owners will be very restrictive about allowing their players to go, perhaps not even allowing for a season carveout to accommodate the Games.)

Both sides heavily credited federal mediator Scott Beckenbaugh for pulling both sides away from the abyss. Until he guided the negotiations, talks were so acrimonious that it was common for one side to accuse the other of trying to screw them over or hide something whenever a deal point was brought up. It’s much akin to the recent federal fiscal cliff debate, which required both sides to come off hardline stances and let some level of common sense reign. Like the fiscal cliff talks, the actual deal came weeks, if not months later than it should have. Too bad that the people who really paid the price for the lockout are the fans. The hardcore fans will come back, somewhat begrudgingly. Will the casual fan?

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At 5:09 AM EST, reports started to emerge out of New York that a tentative deal to end the 113-day NHL lockout had been reached. It’s not a done deal yet as there are still issues to work out, but apparently the major deal points have been agreed upon. Here’s what we know so far:

  • The CBA will run 10 years, with either side able to opt out in year 8.
  • 2013 schedule will have 48-50 regular season games, all in-conference.
  • Season will start January 19.
  • Individual player contracts are limited to 7 years, 8 for re-signed players.
  • The initial salary cap for each team will be $64.3 million.

That last point is interesting, because that’s the same figure as the 2011-12 cap. That’s a pretty big concession on the players’ part. It’s not clear yet the revenue share percentages will be. Last summer, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman projected the cap to be $70 million or higher. During the most recent negotiations, the league was not budging from a $60 million cap.

If the NBA’s post-lockout schedule is any indicator, the upcoming 48-game schedule is going to be brutal. Expect lots of back-to-back games, maybe even some back-to-back-to-back scheduling. Starting on January 19, it’s extremely unlikely that 48 games can be fit into the remaining 12 weeks of the regular season (4 games a week!). Instead, the regular season should be extended 2 weeks to accommodate more rest, with the potential for a compressed or extended Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule on the back end.

This session was, like other fruitless sessions during the fall, handled by a federal mediator. It is unclear exactly how much influence mediator Scott Beckenbaugh had on the process as opposed to the desperation of the two sides, but Bettman made sure to thank Beckenbaugh during his press briefing after the 16-hour marathon session was over.

We’ll dig into the specifics later in the morning.

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