NHL, union make tentative agreement to end lockout
After 113 days and overnight negotiations, the National Hockey League seems to be on the verge of an agreement with the players' association. There will be changes to pension plans, the players' share of hockey-related income, and salary caps.
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The pension plan was "the centerpiece of the deal for the players," Hainsey said.Skip to next paragraph
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The actual language of the pension plan still has to be written, but Hainsey added there is nothing substantial that needs to be fixed.
The players' share of hockey-related income, a total that reached a record $3.3 billion last season, will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split. The salary cap for the upcoming season will be $70.2 million and will then go down to $64.3 million in the 2013-14 season.
All clubs must have a minimum payroll of $44 million.
The league had wanted next season's cap to fall to $60 million, but agreed to an upper limit of $64.3 — the same amount as last season.
Inside individual player contracts, the salary can't vary more than 35 percent year to year, and the final year can't be more than 50 percent of the highest year.
A decision on whether NHL players will participate in the 2014 Olympics will be made apart from the CBA. While it is expected that players will take part, the IOC and the International Ice Hockey Federation will have discussions with the league and the union before the matter is settled.
After the sides stayed mostly apart for two days, following late-night talks that turned sour, federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh worked virtually around the clock to get everyone back to the bargaining table.
This time it worked — early on the 113th day of the work stoppage.
George Cohen, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service director, called the deal "the successful culmination of a long and difficult road."
"Of course, the agreement will pave the way for the professional players to return to the ice and for the owners to resume their business operations," he said in a statement. "But the good news extends beyond the parties directly involved; fans throughout North America will have the opportunity to return to a favorite pastime and thousands of working men and women and small businesses will no longer be deprived of their livelihoods."
Before the sides ever came to an understanding regarding a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, the NHL first tried to cut the players' share from 57 percent to 46 percent.
A series of talks in the first couple of weeks of September don't bring the sides any closer, and the board of governors gave Bettman the authority to lock out the players at midnight on Sept. 15.
There was optimism about an end for the lockout when the sides held talks in New York on Dec. 5-6. The roller coaster took the participants and the fans on an up-and-down thrill ride that ended in major disappointment.
Fehr painted a picture that the sides were close to a deal, and Bettman chastised him for getting people's hopes up. Negotiations broke off, and the NHL announced it was pulling all offers off the table.
It wasn't until Beckenbaugh's determined effort in the final two days of the prolonged negotiations that the sides finally found common ground.
"We were making progress continually and to make a deal you have to continue to make progress until it's over," Hainsey said. "That finally happened today."
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