Well, it took about half the season, but the NHL and the NHLPA have finally avoided what I had coined as D-Day, January 15. If a new CBA had not been agreed to by that date, the entire season would have been cancelled, marking the second time in eight years that the league would lose a season due to labor issues.
It's pretty sad that, after so much progress was made towards bringing hockey back into the limelight of American sports, the league locked out the players over simple, ridiculous issues. One of the main issues: Hockey Related Revenue.
Owners wanted to reduce the players' HRR share from 56% to 46% initially, which the NHLPA later said was really 43%. Unsurprisingly, the players were pretty pissed off about that. The owners were trying to gip the players, and they knew it. The two sides eventually came to the agreement to split HRR 50/50 (Was it that hard to do that?)
The other sticking point was the length of free agent contracts. The owners wanted to limit free agent contracts to five years for open market free agents, and seven year contracts for a team's own player. While it may sound smart, what you don't know is that it's really incredibly stupid. One of the owners leading the charge for that detail was Minnesota Wild majority owner Craig Leipold. This is the same guy who agreed to sign both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13 year contracts. It shows very clearly the absolute hypocrisy that is the NHL owners. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs also led the charge, and he's catching even more grief than he was previously (which was a lot) for being at the helm of the lockout.
The new CBA states that player contracts can not be any longer than seven years for open market free agents, or eight years in the case of players re-signing with their former team.
Also as part of the new CBA, players will, for the first time, get a defined benefit pension plan.
One of the biggest changes to the CBA is that teams can no longer use that little contract trickery that was a loophole in the last CBA (see: Ilya Kovalchuk contract). Teams can no longer totally front load or back load a contract to lower the cap hit. Now, salaries can not vary by any more than 35% year to year, and the lowest yearly salary can be no less than 50% of the highest year. Now we don't see any more of those ridiculous 12, 13, 14, and even 15 year contracts where the details are so blatantly illegal.
Unsurprisingly, there is an amnesty clause included in the new CBA. Teams will be allowed two buyouts to be used either before the 2013-2014 season or the 2014-2015 season for two-thirds of the remaining guaranteed income. The buyout will be included in the players' revenue share, but not the salary cap.
The players will receive $300M in transition payments over three year to account for existing contracts, which will push their revenue share over 50% at the start of this new deal.
The salary cap for this season will be $70.2M before being prorated to adjust for the shortened season. The cap will be $64.3M in 2013-2014 and the cap floor for both this shortened season and the 2013-2014 season will be $44M.
Here's the best part about the new CBA: it's a ten year agreement that includes an opt-out for either side after eight years. So, there's some stability here before Count Bettman and his evil minions decide to pull this crap all over again.
It's great that the league and players managed to end the lockout. Based on the issues they were arguing over, it would have been, in the words of Greg Wyshynski, "titanically stupid" to cancel the season. However, it's ridiculous that the NHL has now had three lockouts in 20 years. That just shouldn't happen, and it's because the NHL owners are greedy bastards who don't care about anything but getting more money in their pockets. I feel for the players who just wanted to play, especially those who aren't the Sidney Crosbys and Alex Ovechkins of the league. Those guys just want to play, and the fact that league and the owners don't seem to care one bit about them is just sad.
Many fans are extremely pissed off at the league and the owners, and rightfully so. Many are considering boycotting NHL games. The issue with that is the owners don't really care if you come or not. People will still come, whether you do or not, and tickets will continue to sell. If you really want to make a statement, how about you boycott concessions in the rink? For example, many restaurants around the TD Garden in Boston rely on Bruins games to generate business. However, business for them went down considerably with the lockout. Bruins fans go out to eat before games if they are going, and many go and eat at the restaurants during games to watch with other fans. One waitress as The Harp in Boston told Channel 7 News in Boston that Bruins fans like to go and eat there and "get rowdy". Bruins games generate business for them, and when there weren't games being played, they lost a lot of money. So, instead of buying hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, pretzels, and beer at the rink, go to the restaurants that really need the business and get your beer and food. Concessions are where NHL teams make the most money, and the less you buy at the game, the more of a hit the team will take.
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