Agreement reached; Lockout on verge of end; Christmas saved

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After 16 hours of bargaining and mediation Saturday and early into Sunday morning, the National Hockey League and its Players Association came through with a tentative labour agreement that will see the remainder of the 2012-2013 season played out under a pro-rated salary cap.

A groggy Gary Bettman, who was speaking about as quickly as either Sedin accelerates (they’re slow, get it?), clarified that the deal must be ratified on both sides, and that there was no information available yet on schedule or number of games to be played.

For a quick take, however, the CBA deal shouldn’t have too much trouble gaining support on both sides. Players probably would have ratified any NHL proposal offered in December.

Here are some highlights, per the Canadian Press:

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  • Players receive a defined benefit pension plan, which I’m to understand is a big win for them.
  • Hockey-related revenue to be split 50-50 each season, with $300-million in deferred “make whole payments” which I’ll need someone who speaks legalese to define for me once the CBA is published online somewhere

For the stuff the fans care about, for those of us refreshing our teams’ Capgeek (or NHLNumbers) pages:

  • A salary cap of $64.3M in 2013-14, with a $44M salary floor
  • A seven-year limit on free-agent contracts, capped at eight when re-signing a player
  • Maximum salary variance of 35% year-to-year, and no more than 50% over any two years of the deal (goodbye back-diving deals. Hello slightly-less-back-diving deals)
  • Two amnesty buyouts which count against the player’s HRR share, but not the salary cap, which can be used up prior to the start of next season or the 2014-15 campaign.

Most importantly, I’d think:

  • Any team can win the draft lottery. You can keep winnin’ for MacKinnon for all I care. Shame, because #SuckForShinkaruk and #SkidForPopeyeJonesKid were going to be big staples of the stretch run

Olympic participation has yet to be determined, but I’d say it’s fairly given.

Welcome back. It’s gonna be a nice change to finally talk a little bit of hockey around here.

  • What does Kevin Lowe have left if quitting is no longer an option?

    I’ll ask why the League doesn’t consider reversing the order of the 2nd, 4th and 6th rounds to reward those teams that don’t quit, but rather try and win.

    • Subversive

      Of all the reasons I’m glad hockey is back, you and people like you are at the top of my list, Kent. Here’s hoping for record website traffic and ad revenues (and, I guess, a nice small sample size run from the Flames on their way to a playoff berth).

      • Haha, cheers Sub. It was a pretty rough ride, I’ll be honest. We’re lucky we have some of the dedicated writers (and readers) that we do, because this could have sunk the ship otherwise.

        I had to shelve some biggish deals/plans for FN in particular when the lock-out came about, so Im hoping I can get those back on track and have some good news announcements for the site in the next month or so…

        • Thanks for helping us get through this, Kent! I’ve had more fun discussing prospects on this site than I’ve had watching hockey the last few years…

          It’ll be interesting to see how the lottery rules affect the Flames. I’m guessing this season will be their worst of the last 4, given that none of their top players have been playing (supposed to be top players, maybe Backlund/Baertschi/Brodie/Horak will become their best). So I think they’ll be out of the playoff hunt early, but if there’s a play-in or something, it may be that nobody will be out of it. We don’t know when the trade deadline will be. I think it needs to be looked at as an opportunity to cash in on the best draft in years, rather than an opportunity to make the playoffs as a 10 seed, and not even get a home playoff game. Here’s hoping somebody will be dumb enough to give up some first and second round picks, and the Flames are smart enough to take them.

  • Cam, FYI I think the Draft Lottery for the 1st overall is only for the 14 non playoff teams.

    Must be a relief for all you writers Kent, you guys do a great job & this lockout only pissed me & most off. This is going to be a huge shortened season & I would imagine depending on how these guys get out of the gate, a lot of heated debates.

    Hate to say it, but the young Oilers are already game ready versus most of our Flame Vets. I’m curious, some of the kids from the WJ team everyone was saying were NHL ready but playing in the juniors, will they get time from their junior team in the middle of the season to go to their NHL training camp? Arent there some rules about that?

  • Subversive

    I actually think that the two compliance buyouts could allow teams such as the Flames to turn it around fairly quickly, if used well. The challenge is, 29 other teams get to do it too.

    • beloch

      On the bright side, there will be a fire sale on “project” players as all those who are bought out try to find contracts. It will be an interesting off season!

  • beloch

    You guys really amped up this network of sites and took it to the next level just in time for this lockout. I admit, I felt pretty bad for you! I can’t wait to see how this site develops once there’s some actual hockey to talk about though!

    Can this agreement still fall apart if Fehr and Bettman get into a struggle over crossing t’s or dotting i’s? They’ve pulled so much crap I’m reluctant to take their word until the players and owners sign something.

  • 24% body fat

    Any team can win the draft lottery is a correct statement.

    However playoff teams do not participate in the lottery.

    So no not any team in the league can win the chance to draft first overall.

  • I can’t believe how I was able to flip into hockey-chat mode after midnight – Lu rumours before the big announcement, then who would be coming from the Wolves for Canucks camp. That felt good. Thinking about us all having to sit and wait for three months? That really made me mad.

    I’m cynical and don’t expect anything to happen, but I hope that fans will feel more enabled now and will express themselves better, both during games and outside the arena. Don’t wait for the scoreboard to tell you to make noise, folks.

    oh and, Cam – yes, retaining a defined benefits package for the players is a huge win. It’s a huge risk for them, as it could be far more expensive to run than they’ve currently budgeted for.

  • Got to agree with Kevin R that the Oilers have no excuse not to get off to a great start. Except maybe the young guys have been getting used to playing against AHL competition, and could get frustrated back in the bigs. Not likely though, I look for them to go out in front for the first few weeks anyway.

    • If they get any kind of goaltending from Duby & they may come out of the gate like last year. I am really curious to see how Iggy fairs with Hartley. Is it just me but Hartley comes across of being a bit of a demanding SOB like Sutter. Cant help but think Iggy is tired of this style of coaching and packing a franchise. Wonder when the trade deadline would be because I see lots of opportunity & quite frankly, (some will say I’m nuts) I have some faith in Weisbrod/Button & Conroy if we were to parlay our aging franchise players to some 1st rounders & almost ready prospects. Iggy would be the top rental player available bar none this trade deadline. With a 70.2 mill cap, he can easily fit in with contenders & wont have any impact for next year’s 64.3 mill cap scale down. I think we have a short window to reverse the damage of 7 years of DS’s neglect.

      • supra steve

        I’m of similar optimistic opinion on the Flames scouting/drafting in recent years. Too early to tell on 2011 and 2012 drafts, but looking at the class of ’11 there is reason to be optimistic. If you can select two or more players (or even one from time to time) per year who go on to have at least decent NHL careers you should be sustainable, and I think that is what they have been doing lately. Even their first rounders recently have been (mostly) looking like real players, and that is key as these early selections are where they have stumbled in the past. When you can add promise in later rounds (Gillies, Brossoit, Reinhart, Brodie, Gaudreau) then you are cooking.

        If this team were to land two or three or four first rounders this year I am optimistic that they could turn those (and later) selections into long term impact players. That is what it takes to win championships, and that is what this foolish hobby is all about.

  • RKD

    Finally, no more hearing about HRR, disclaimers, decertification, proposals and counteroffers.

    The real shame here is that this lockout could have ended exactly one month ago. From what I have heard, this is the deal that the NHL rejected from the players. The NHL was hoping the players would fold, they didn’t so here we are a month wasted.

    The only people who got hurt the most are the people working at the arenas. Florida was the first place to layoff their employees. The NHL has plenty of money to backdate their pay or give them some type of bonus. The people living paycheque to paycheque don’t get any benefits.