The NHL lockout is over.
Just before 5 a.m. on Sunday, after more than 16 hours of negotiations at the Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan, the NHL and its players came to a verbal agreement on a new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement, ending the league’s 113-day work stoppage.
“We’ve got to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s,” NHL commissioner Bettman told reporters in New York. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework of the deal has been agreed upon."
The NHL is expected to announce a start date for training camps and the number of games in an abbreviated regular season later Sunday or early Monday. Early reports indicate either a 48- or 50-game regular season beginning no later than Jan. 19.
"Hopefully,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said, “within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating not the two of us,” referring to himself and Bettman.
The new CBA, which needs to be put to paper and ratified by both sides, will have an opt-out after eight years with a $64.3 million salary cap and a $44 million salary floor in 2013-14. Maximum player contracts will be set at seven years.
Next season’s salary cap was a major sticking point between the two sides, with the NHL finally relenting on its original $60 million proposal. The league also agreed to raise the year-to-year variance of player contracts from 10 percent to 50 percent, which means a player signing a contract that pays him an average of $4 million can earn no more than $8 million and no less than $2 million at any other point during that contract.
In addition to determining a schedule, the NHL will need to begin repairing its relationship with an angry fan base that has witnessed two lengthy lockouts in eight years. The entire 2004-05 season was wiped out by a work stoppage and this one lasted nearly four months.
“We’ll be talking to the fans, most importantly,” Bettman said, “But at this point in time we still have some work to do.”