After a long and frustrating negotiation period, the NHL and NHLPA are on the verge of an agreement to end the lockout. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says all that's left is "dotting the i's and crossing the t's", but barring some paperwork, hockey is only days away from returning.
At this point we're looking at a 50 game season which could start as soon as January 15th, after a brief camp that could begin as early as this Wednesday, January 8th. For you math wizards out there, that's just 7 days of preparation. What this means for any sort of preseason schedule, we'll have to see. If you're looking to the NBA shortened season as an example, most teams played ONE preseason game in order to get ready, against a regional opponent.
The details of the agreement, per WGR:
TSN's Aaron Ward, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, outlined the features of the new agreement as follows;
- The players' share of hockey-related revenue will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split for all 10 years. There is an opt-out of the 10 year deal after 8 years.
- The Year 2 salary cap is set at $64.3 million. The Year 2 salary floor will be $44 million.
- The salary variance on contracts from year to year cannot vary more than 35 per cent and the final year cannot vary more than 50 per cent of the highest year.
- A player contract term limit for free agents will be seven years and eight years for a team signing its own player.
- The draft lottery selection process will change with all 14 teams fully eligible for the first overall pick. The weighting system for each team may remain, but four-spot move restriction will be eliminated.
- Free agency will open July 1 in the new agreement. But with a later ending to this season, free agency for this summer will start at a later date.
Obviously there are still a lot of questions to be answered. What will the schedule look like? Back-to-back-to-backs? How late into the summer will we be watching playoff hockey?
But who cares about that right now?!? We're back out of hibernation, and that step out your front door into the frigid WNY air might not bite quite as hard knowing that we'll be back to watching our beloved Buffalo Sabres in a matter of days.
Much more to come here on DBTB. For now, welcome back.