The National Hockey League's lockout is over. Almost.
The players and owners reached a tentative deal on a 10-year collective bargaining agreement around 4:40 a.m. today after a marathon negotiating session. The agreement still must be ratified by both sides. Indications are that both sides will endorse the deal, probably within a couple of days.
If that happens, there will be a season of 50 or 48 games, with play beginning Jan. 15 or 19, depending on which option is chosen.
Training camps are expected to open within the next few days, although there is no official word on that yet.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced at a press conference in New York, where the deal was struck, that details on camps and regular season games should be finalized and released later today. "We've got to dot a lot of i's and cross a lot of t's," Bettman said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."
Some highlights of the tentative agreement:
* the term is 10 years, with the parties being able to opt out after eight.
* Teams can spend up to $702 million on player contracts in the season that will begin later this month, but the salary-cap ceiling for the 2013-14 season will be $64.3 million.
* Teams will be permitted two contract buyouts before the 2013-14 season.
* Contracts can run a maximum of seven years or eight if a player is being re-signed.
* Free agency will continue to start on July 1.
* The salary in multi-year contracts will be allowed to vary as much as 35 percent from one year to the next, but the final season must be worth at least 50 percent of the highest-valued one.
* The players will receive 50 percent of hockey-related revenue, down from 57 percent in the previous collective bargaining agreement.
* All 14 non-playoff teams will have a chance to end up with the first overall draft choice because of the removal of a stipulation that teams can move up no more than four slots.
* There will be $200 million in revenue-sharing funds.
First Published January 6, 2013 11:45 AM