National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, the players’ association chief, emerged from a 16-hour negotiation session early Sunday morning with a new collective-bargaining agreement that brings to an end the 113-day lockout as well as preventing the cancellation of the entire season.
Once the deal is ratified by the players and the league’s board of governors, likely by Wednesday, final details will be determined. The tentative plan calls for the teams to play a 50-game schedule that would begin January 15 if ratification moves quickly-if not the schedule would be 48-games and would start January 19.
“Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on a framework for a new collective bargaining agreement,” Bettman said, the New York Times reported. “We went through a tough period, but it’s good to be at this point.”
Highlights of the Deal
-Under the new deal the players’ share of hockey-related revenue drops from 57 percent to 50 percent and caps the term of free-agent contracts at seven years. Clubs can re-sign their own players to eight-year deals.
-It also sharply reduces the N.H.L. salary cap, which more than doubled during the previous seven-year CBA and would have climbed to $70.2 million per club this season under the old deal. According to multiple reports the agreed upon cap will be $64.3 million-the same as last season.
-This year, clubs will be limited by a pro-rated cap up to that figure, but it will be held to $63.4 million per season in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
-Revenue-sharing between teams increases to $200 million annually in this deal — up from $150 million — but the league expanded the number of clubs that can qualify for it.
-A player’s year-to-year salary variance can be no more than 35 percent. This is in response to front-loaded contracts used to get around the salary cap. There could be no more than a 50 percent difference between any two seasons in a contract.
-A minimum salary of $525,000 this season, growing to $750,000 in the 10th year of the agreement
-A new draft-lottery format by which all 14 non-playoff clubs — not just the bottom four clubs in the standings — would have a chance at the No. 1 overall pick.
The agreement ensures labor peace for the term of the eight-year collective-bargaining agreement, which can be extended by mutual agreement by players and owners for two more years, through the 2021-22 season. The base deal runs through the 2019-20 season.
Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, orchestrated the marathon session and deserves much of the credit for saving the season. Thursday and Friday the two sides had reached a stalemate and wouldn’t even sit in the same room, so Beckenbaugh employed a form of shuttle diplomacy that equaled that of any top diplomat. He went back and forth between the N.H.L. office in Midtown Manhattan and the union’s hotel, nearly three blocks away through New York City traffic, and slowly pieced together the framework that led to the end of the lockout after 625 regular season games had been cancelled.
FMCS Statement on N.H.L.-N.H.L.P.A. Labor Agreement
Beckenbaugh was also the mediator during the talks that failed in, resulting in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season. His role in avoiding the league’s second work stoppage was crucial and cannot, and should not, be understated.
“I’d been told by family and friends, ‘Lock yourselves in a room and don’t come out,’ ” Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan said early Sunday, according to AOL Sporting News. “The mediator kind of did that. He kind of kept us going, and that was huge. Both sides got involved and got it done, and that was good.”
The Gwinnett Gladiators are the ECHL affiliate of the Coyotes.
Had they failed to come to an agreement, Fehr had threatened to call for a vote to dissolve the union. If the union had dissolved, the N.H.L. would have lost its second season over a labor dispute, after the 2004-2005 season was lost due to salary cap issues. No other major North American sports league has lost two seasons due to work stoppages before- the N.H.L. came within days of being the first.
Division leading Gwinnett will be back at home at the Arena next Saturday, January 12th to face the Kalamazoo Wings for the first time this season.
Single Game Ticket Info
The Gladiators are the ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and play home games at the 11,355-seat Arena at Gwinnett Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth. The ECHL is the Premier “AA” League.
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