After 113 long days, the NHL and the NHLPA (players’ union) came to an agreement in the wee hours Sunday morning after more than 16 hours of negotiation.
According to TSN’s Aaron Ward, a former Wing, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the new collective bargaining agreement, will include the following elements:
• The CBA is for 10 years with an opt-out clause after eight years.
• The players’ portion of hockey-related revenue will go from 57 percent to 50 percent for the 10 years of the agreement.
• The salary cap for the second year will be $64.3 million, the same as last year’s maximum. The minimum will be $44 million.
• In the first year of the agreement, the maximum salary cap is $60 million but teams are permitted to spend up to $70.2 million pro-rated. The minimum will be $44 million.
• Each team can use two amnesty buyouts to get rid of contracts after this season and next season. The buyouts will count against the players’ overall revenue share but not against the team’s salary cap.
• Contracts cannot vary more than 35 percent from year to year and the final year cannot vary more than 50 percent of the highest year.
• Contracts can be for no more than seven years for free agents or eight years for a team signing its own free agents.
• The draft lottery will now allow all 14 teams to be eligible to receive the first overall pick. The weighting system may stay the same but the restriction on moving more than four spots will be gone.
• Discipline for on-ice incidents will first go through Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice president of hockey and business development and head disciplinarian. The appeals process goes through commissioner Gary Bettman. If there’s a suspension of six or more games, a neutral third party may decide, if necessary.
• Revenue sharing will go to $200 million. Also, an NHLPA-initiated growth fund of $60 million is included.
• During salary arbitration, teams can only walk away if the award amounts to at least $3.5 million.
• The start of free agency remains July 1, according to what the players wanted. The league wanted to change it to July 10. With this season’s delayed start, free agency will likely start later than that just this year.
• A decision on whether the NHL will allow players to participate in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be made outside of the new CBA.
Although it’s a very good thing that the league and the players finally have an agreement, now work must begin to woo back fans and sponsors.
You can’t expect fans to come running back so quickly. After all, this is the third time since 1994 that there’s been a lengthy lockout. In the 1994-95 season, a lockout shortened the season to 48 games, much like this season is expected to be. In 2004-05, a lockout canceled the entire season.
With the opt-out clause in place, there could be another stoppage in eight years.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings are in a difficult situation. For the first time in 20 seasons, Nick Lidstrom will not be manning the blue line.
Now the veteran Swede back there will be Niklas Kronwall, who turns 32 on Jan. 12. He’ll be joined by Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, Kyle Quincey, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith. Smith has five goals, 15 assists and is a plus-9 in 32 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The forward corps will be led by centers Pavel Datsyuk, who must return from the KHL in Russia; Henrik Zetterberg, who’s been playing in Switzerland; and Darren Helm, who has been among players skating in Troy during the lockout.
Zetterberg will likely be joined on a line with Damien Brunner, his linemate for EV Zug in Switzerland. Brunner leads EV Zug with 25 goals and 32 assists in 33 games. Zetterberg has 16 goals and 16 assists in 23 games.
Valtteri Filppula has just started skating again after injuring his knee in the Finnish SM-liiga while playing for Jokerit, so he’ll have to be brought along slowly.
Daniel Cleary, Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Cory Emmerton, Johan Franzen, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Gustav Nyquist and Jordin Tootoo will make up the rest of the forwards.
Miller has 15 goals and 15 assists in 23 games with the Braehead Clan in Scotland. Mursak has 16 goals and 27 assists in 28 games for Olimpija Ljubljana in Austria. Nyquist leads the Griffins with 11 goals and 20 assists in 32 games.
As for goaltending, incumbent starter Jimmy Howard will be challenged by Jonas Gustavsson, formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Wings signed Gustavsson as a free agent this past summer.
According to the Detroit News, the Wings will also have to find somewhere else to practice for a while.
Ford Motor Company rented out Joe Louis Arena for the North American International Auto Show based on the original NHL schedule, which had the Wings out of town on the west coast.
In the past when Joe Louis Arena has not been available, the Wings have practiced at City Rink in downtown Detroit. They won’t get back to Joe Louis Arena until Jan. 16.