For those of you who didn’t know that there is a game played on a sheet of ice with players on skates that hit a hard black piece of rubber called a puck that they whack at with sticks trying to get it past a goalie into a net, then the news that the NHL has ended their 113 day-old lockout won’t be news to you. For Dallas Stars fans and for NHL fans in general though, waking up Sunday was like getting up Christmas morning to find presents underneath the tree. That’s because the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to terms on a new ten year collective bargaining agreement. There will be an opt-out at eight years.
Some of the other details in the new NHL CBA include:
- The salary cap in year two is $64.3 million with a floor of $44 million. This was the biggest issue between the two sides and the issue that is the main reason a new CBA wasn’t reached until now.
- Max length for contracts is seven-years, eight if re-signing with team. The NHL was dead set on five years, but ended up by moving off of that stance. In the end, the league is not losing big on this issue.
- Free agency remains at July 1 years two through ten. The league wanted to push free agency back to July 10th, but the players refused to budge. The league said it wanted to do this to give more buzz to the signings as July 1 is a national holiday in Canada and July 4 is a national holiday here in the US.
- All teams that miss the playoffs have a shot at the number one pick. Before, it was just the top five. It will be weighted just like the NBA, but it is still a nice change.
There are of course many other details and headlines in the entire CBA that would take a long time to go through. The big news though for NHL fans is that the entire season is not lost and the NHL is aiming for a 48-game season, maybe fifty depending on how fast things go in implementing the new CBA. Unlike the last NHL strike that wiped out an entire season back in 2004-05, this new CBA should not bring many new rule changes. After the last lockout, the following season saw larger nets and shootouts to decide games instead of ending in ties, both changes which have really improved the game. It is doubtful that we will see such instrumental changes this time around.
Training camps will start soon, most likely January 12 with a target date for the season of January 19th. The Stanley Cup Finals will conclude at the normal time. Of course there are plenty of NHL fans angry at both sides for dragging on this ridiculous lockout and rightfully so. There was no need for this lockout and the NHL has a lot of work to do in order to get back that good will that they had built up the last few years. Revenues were up and should continue to go up. But will NHL fans return to the arenas? Will they throng to the TV sets to watch the games? They will, but it will take time. The sponsors need to be shown that the NHL will come back better and stronger from this and there is no guarantee of that right away. But fans will return, and hopefully they return to American Airlines Center to watch a Dallas Stars team that will be much improved over last year and may make a run at the playoffs in this shortened season.
Either way, it is just great knowing that the NHL will have a season this year, even though it will be shortened. There will be more details to come as to what the schedule will look like and more of a timeline on when the season begins, but one thing is certain. There will be hockey, so let’s play hockey!