At Long Last, NHL Owners And Player’s Union Reach Agreement

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There will be a Hockey season in 2013.  After a 113 lockout by owners, which will reduce the season to 48 games, players are set to begin spring training on Friday, for a season that will begin on January 19th.  This was an ugly labor dispute in which both sides showed little respect or trust for the other.  The terms of the deal appear to be the acceptance by the players for ten-years, with an opt out after eight years.  In return, the owners agreed to move away from the $60 million salary cap for 2013-14.  It was set at $64.3 million, and close to the desired $65 million figure requested by the players.  The floor remained at $44 million dollars at the player’s request.  In addition to the salary cap, other significant agreements include, revenue sharing among the clubs, which will be increased to $200 million annually, an increase from the league’s previous level, which was approximately $150 million.  A new appeals process will be put in place for players suspended for greater than five games.  The appeal will now be heard by a third-party as opposed to the NHL Commissioner.  The NHL Draft will change so every team that misses the playoffs will have an opportunity to win the lottery, thereby getting the first pick.  Previously, the team that won the lottery only moved up four spaces which often resulted in a non-playoff team, not receiving the first, overall pick in the draft.  The contract needs to be written and approved, a long, arduous task, but there will be hockey in 2013.  Now all that’s left is to see whether fans will immediately return.  But given the history of hockey labor disputes and lockouts, the fans have always returned in droves, even if it took a few games.  In Canada, there is no doubt the fans will return from game one, particularly because it’s the nation’s pastime and there is little else this time of year.  In the US however, the Superbowl will be on fans’ minds and so there is a distraction which may lead to fans to return more slowly.  By season’s end however, when the playoffs begin, the seats will be filled despite the current anger over the long lockout.  Fans love their hockey and the NHL will undoubtedly do everything it can, to bring them back.

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