The day hockey fans have been waiting for has finally arrived, with a tentative deal to end the lockout in place between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association.
It took a 16-hour overnight bargaining session, but the costly 113-day lockout is now all but officially over.
The deal, which still needs to be hammered out and ratified, was announced early Sunday morning in New York by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players’ Association chief Donald Fehr.
“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 told the joint news conference.
“We’ve got to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s. There’s still a lot of work to be done but the basic framework of the deal has been agreed upon.”
Neither side has announced details of the deal at this point, but sources tell The Canadian Press it’s a 10-year agreement with an opt-out clause after eight years.
Those sources add that the deal includes defined benefit pensions for the players and a $64.3-million salary cap in 2013-2014.
Other highlights potentially include a seven-year contract term limit for free agents, jumping to eight years for players re-signing with the same team.
The deal will also limit the amount of the variance in a player’s contract between years.
The news drew a large reaction on Twitter and Facebook from fans, with some saying this is the greatest news they have heard. Others, however, said they stopped caring a long time ago and hope the fans will boycott the season as much as possible.
Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper chimed in, saying he was “glad to see a deal between the players and the league. Great news for hockey fans and communities across Canada. ”
With this current deal it’s not clear when the season will start or how many games will be played, but it is clear the league lost fans, sponsors and money.
How quickly they will come back remains to be seen.