The Owners pulled their goalie – and both sides scored.
As a result, the National Hockey League lockout is over. Tentatively.
When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Player’s Union representative Donald Fehr removed themselves from the negotiating process early last month, the hope was that the talks would become less contentious, but two of the most militant owners in the talks, Boston’s Jeremey Jacobs and Calgary’s Murray Edwards, took advantage of the lack of experienced leadership for the players and tried to railroad the process.
And when the players said they wanted Fehr back in the negotiations, Edwards balked and essentially told the players that the NHL would pull everything off the table. Instead, the owners were pulled from the table and the deal got done without the stonewalling efforts.
“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,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed to reporters early Sunday morning. “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.”
Details of the agreement have not been officially announced, nor has a start date for the season. That is expected later on Sunday, but it seems that on many of the final issues, both sides gave in on previously intractable stances.
Some of the highlight of the agreement include a concession by the players that their share of hockey-related revenue will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split for all 10 years of the tentative deal. Also, the league loosened 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.
Obviously the deal is far more complicated that just these two issues, and the layman’s details of the deal will be recapped in detail in the coming days when the signed agreement becomes public knowledge.
“Hopefully we’re at a place where all those things will proceed fairly rapidly and with some dispatch,” said Fehr. “We’ll get back to business as usual just as fast as we can. Hopefully within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us.”
Now comes the monumentous task of getting players reporting to their respective teams, getting an abbreviated training camp up and running and implementing a schedule, believed to be somewhere in the range of 50 games.
But we can let the people involved worry about that – as for the fans, they can start getting their gear together.
Because Hockey is back. Finally.