Are any of our readers as excited about this as I am?
After a 113 day long lockout, the NHL owners and the NHL Players Association have come to terms on a tentative agreement which lays the foundations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement would reportedly span ten years, making sure a ridiculous, money-grubbing fiasco like this cannot happen again for at least a decade. C'mon guys, how about a thirty-year CBA instead?
The agreement came at nearly 5:00am Sunday morning after a marathon 16-hour negotiation. While the deal must still be officially ratified via voting by the board of governors and the players themselves, the expectation is that soon we will have an announcement of a shortened 48-game season to commence as soon as possible (a standard NHL season sees each of the thirty teams play 84 games). An abbreviated season like this is not unprecedented; in 1995 a shortened 48-game season was instituted under these exact same circumstances.
The tentative agreement includes a seven-year limit on player contract length (eight for players to re-sign with their same team). According to reports, the 2013-14 salary cap, a sticking point in the final days of negotiations, will be set at $64.3 million with a floor of $44 million.
The news is good for NBC, as the network signed a record-breaking television deal with the National Hockey League last year. Finally, the peacock network will be able to see a return on their investment. But the question remains: will the fans come back? Sure, up here in my native Canada we'll follow hockey no matter what they put us through, but the NBC deal was predicated on new popularity highs amongst American fans--it's very possible that many of those fans will be too frustrated or disillusioned to return to their home arenas.
The agreement came as a last-ditch effort to salvage any sort of a season. Had a deal not been reached this week, the entire season would have had to be cancelled--something that happened as recently as the 2004-05 season. That's right, 1994-95, 2004-05, and now 2012-13 have all been sullied or lost by lockouts. Even as a lifelong, die-hard fan, that is a tough pill to swallow. The National Hockey League has a lot of ground to recover if they want to bring their fans back and keep their revenue streams active.