Uniondale, N.Y. – The National Hockey League and the players association ended the 113 day standoff early Sunday morning, reaching a tentative agreement on a new collective-bargaining deal that will salvage a shortened regular season after a long lockout.
It took a 16-hour overnight bargaining session, but the costly lockout is now all but officially over.
The deal, which still needs to be hammered out and ratified, was announced early Sunday morning in New York by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players’ Association chief Donald Fehr.
“”We have to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon.”
The collective bargaining agreement still must be ratified by a majority of the league’s 30 owners and the union’s membership of approximately 740 players.
Neither side has announced details of the deal at this point, but sources tell The Canadian Press it’s a 10-year agreement with an opt-out clause after eight years.
Those sources add that the deal includes defined benefit pensions for the players and a $64.3-million salary cap in 2013-2014.
Other highlights potentially include a seven-year contract term limit for free agents, jumping to eight years for players re-signing with the same team.
The deal will also limit the amount of the variance in a player’s contract between years.
The pension plan was “the centerpiece of the deal for the players,” said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, who took part in negotiations throughout the process.
The league had canceled regular-season games through Jan. 14 and its annual midseason All-Star Game. It still has to finalize details for a truncated schedule. In 1995, the NHL ended a lockout on Jan. 11, and each team (there were just 26 franchises in the league at the time) played an intraconference schedule of 48 games.
“We’re at a place where all those things will proceed fairly rapidly and with some dispatch,” said Donald Fehr, executive director of the players association, “and we’ll get back to what we used to call business as usual as fast as we can.”