The National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association have reportedly agreed to the framework of a collective bargaining agreement that would keep the league away from another lockout for 10 years and give fans a partial season in 2013, according to NHL.com.
Worth noting is that there is an opt-out clause after eight years, but at least the end of the lockout appears to be in sight.
This tentative agreement comes after what is being reported as “a marathon 16-hour negotiation session on Saturday." There is still much work to be done in hammering out the details before the league can officially begin hockey activity.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told TSN Sunday morning about the agreement and what’s next for the two sides:
Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper. We have to dot a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon.
TSN went on to explain some of the details of the reported CBA agreement:
According to TSN Hockey Analyst Aaron Ward and TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the agreement features the following elements:
- 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. The cap floor will be $44 million.
- The 10-year deal also has an opt-out clause that kicks in after eight years.
While this ordeal is still far from over, the two sides are now on the right track to getting the league back up and running in a timely fashion. As much as the partial season is still a slap in the face to the fans, there are many hockey enthusiasts who enjoy the sport and just want it back.
For others, the boycott of the 2013 season will begin immediately.
There is no question that the third lockout in less than 20 years has damaged the reputation and international appeal of the league, but hockey will always have a diehard following.
The league also knew that hardcore hockey fans would flock back to the NHL as soon as the league started back up, and both sides used that knowledge as leverage in the negotiation process.
While the damage will be immense in the short term (just look at the lost revenue from this season so far), labor stability ensures that for the next 10 seasons the NHL will grow and flourish as a league and as a brand.
Most of the current fans will flock back, and the league will develop new fans as well. The NHL appears to be ready to return to action, and the slow migration of the fans back to the sport they love begins right away.
Check back for more on the National Hockey League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NHL page to get your fill of all things hockey.