After four months of intense negotiations hockey is finally back, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to end the lockout. According to NHL Commissioner Garry Bettman “We have reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which still need to be put to paper.”
Let’s take a look at some highlights of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new CBA will run 10 years from 2021-2022 with an option to terminate the deal after eight years. Owners and players split revenue 50-50 each season. There is a pro-rated salary cap of $70.2-million for the shortened 2012-13 season followed by a salary cap of $64.3-million in 2013-14. The salary floor will be set at $44 million for both years.
There will now be a seven year limit on free agent contracts and eight years when a player signs with the original team. This means that we won’t be seeing anymore 14 year contracts. An interesting thing added in the CBA is that any player not on entry level contract will now have own room on the road. Finally, participation of NHL players in the Olympics will be decided outside of the CBA.
As for the current season, the NHL hasn’t set a date to drop the puck. More than likely there will be a one week training camp for the teams and then a 48 game schedule. The new 48 game season will make for a very intense and exciting season. Every game will actually mean something. One loss early on or losing a shootout and only gaining one point could determine where a team finishes in the standings.
There is one thing that the new CBA didn’t address and this realignment. The Winnipeg Jets can’t continue to play in the East. The Dallas Stars shouldn’t be the only team in the central time zone that plays in the Pacific division. So, hopefully in the summer that is straightened out and realignment is worked on.
Now one has to look at what the lockout will actually do to fans. For people like me that love hockey, there won’t be much of an effect. I’m going to watch the NHL if it is a full 82 game season or 48. I am still upset that the lockout happened but I’m still going to watch the game. The more important question is will casual fans come back.
As much as Bettman says that the lockout won’t affect how fans view hockey, I disagree. I think that the NHL is going to have to work hard again to get a lot of casual fans back. The players know it. Look what Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks said “As players we need to keep showing our fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there.”
I also hope that this lockout can help end the tenure of Bettman. He is one of the worst commissioners of any of the big professional sports. Under his tenure there has been three lockouts including one where the entire season was cancelled. He shouldn’t be back.
But, let’s be positive because today is a happy day. Hockey is back and that is a good thing. In the words of Eddie Olczyk, I am one happy human.
Did you miss hockey as much as I did? Let me know and follow me on Twitter @EvanCrum1319