Monday, January 7, 2013

Lockout Over: NHL and NHLPA Agree To New CBA

It's over. After wiping out all of training camp and the first three and a half months of the season, the NHL lockout is officially over. The outstanding news broke earlier today, when details began to trickle in that the NHL and NHLPA reached an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement late Saturday evening. Both sides have since confirmed that a tentative deal has been reached, and we officially have a 2012-2013 hockey season to look forward to.

The new CBA is a 10-year deal with an opt out clause (gotta love those, right?) after the eighth year. The players and owners agreed on a 50/50 split of revenue sharing, meaning the players took a cut of seven percent in the revenue sharing they were previously receiving. You can read more details on the new CBA as they continue to trickle in here. I'm sure we'll get more information of the next few days.

As for when the season begins? Well, hockey fans apparently won't have to wait long. The NHL has confirmed that the season will be 48 games long, and depending on how quickly the new CBA is officially approved the season could being as early as Jan. 15. A lot of it is still up in the air, though, and the Jan. 15 start date is still just being rumored. The NHL will likely release an official start date within the next week.

I'll have more on my thoughts regarding this entire negotiation process and the new agreement that was reached, but for now I'll just say it's a fantastic feeling to know we have hockey back. I thought we were bound to lose the entire season once the lockout extended into the new calendar year, and Gary Bettman did confirm a few days ago that the next step would be to cancel the remainder of the season if no agreement had been reached by Jan. 11. I think most people were prepared for the worst based on the recent string of events, and rightfully so. There had been little progress reported by both sides over the past several months, and every time it seemed like both sides were finally starting to make a breakthrough in negotiations things would fall apart every single time. To say that I was shocked when I woke up today and heard an agreement had been reached would be an understatement.

I'll also say that while I, like every hockey fan, am ecstatic that we will have an abbreviated season, it still angers me that it took this long for a deal to be reached. Neither the owners nor the players come out looking like saints after this whole ordeal, but that analysis will be saved for another day.

As for the Rangers, I expect we'll begin getting more information on players over the next few days. Henrik Lundqvist returned to New York from Sweden last week with the hope that there would be an NHL season, and a few other players have already commented on Twitter, Instagram and the Rangers' official website about how psyched they are for the season to begin. It'll be nice to finally get to see Rick Nash take the Garden ice in a Rangers uniform, and hopefully Marian Gaborik is fully healed by now from his shoulder surgery that was expected to sideline him until December at the latest.

Much more to come over the next few days. We're just getting started!