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2005 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement

Main points in the NHL CBA that was in effect from 2005 to 2012.


In July of 2005, the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association signed a new collective bargaining agreement, which was later ratified by the NHL Board of Governors and NHLPA membership.

The agreement ended a 10-month lockout of the players, which caused the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season.

The initial announcement of the end of the lockout was was posted at the the NHL and NHLPA websites:

"The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Details of the new Agreement will not be made available publicly pending the formal ratification process by NHLPA Members and the NHL Board of Governors. It is anticipated that the ratification process will be completed next week, at which time the parties will be prepared to discuss the details of the Agreement and plans for next season. No further comment will be made until then."

The 2004-05 NHL lockout was the longest work stoppage in the sports history, and it ended with what many claimed to be the most complex collective bargaining agreement in sports history. At over 600 pages in length, the 2005 CBA completely overhauled the NHL economic system. It included a salary cap linked to league revenues, a comprehensive formula for calculating those revenues, and new policies governing everything from free agency, Olympic participation, salary arbitration, drug testing and more.

Initially signed as a six-year deal, the 2005 NHL CBA gave the NHL Players' Association an option to terminate it after the fourth year or extend it to a seventh year. The NHLPA exercised its right to extend the agreement, so it remained in effect until September of 2012.

Highlights of the 2005 NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement

(All figures in US dollars)

  • The salary cap was set at $39 million per team for 2005-06 NHL season, the first season played under the deal. By the 2011-12 season the salary cap was $64.3 million.

  • The salary cap was calculated each year to guarantee players 54 percent of total NHL revenues. The players' share increased as revenues rose to specific benchmarks. Estimates for the 2010-11 season had players getting about 57 percent of total revenues.

  • For the 2005-06 season, the value of all existing contracts was rolled back by 24 percent.

  • 2004-05 contract years were wiped out.

  • No player could earn more than 20 percent of his team's salary cap.

  • The age at which players qualified as unrestricted free agents dropped from 31 in the first year of the deal to 27 or seven years of NHL service as of 2008.

  • A new protocol was introduced governing restricted free agents, salary arbitration, and how restricted free agents switch teams under the "offer sheet" system.

  • In the summer of 2005, a team could buy out a player contract for two-thirds of the contract value, without counting it against the 2005-06 salary cap. After that, a percentage value of all buyouts counted against the cap in future seasons.

  • Revenue sharing split an unspecified pool of money from the 10 highest-grossing teams among the bottom 15.

  • A tighter rookie salary cap saw entry-level players restricted to a maximum of $850,000 per year, with strict limits on bonuses.

  • A drug testing protocol was introduced, with suspensions for offenders.

  • NHL players were committed to participate in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

    See also:
    Understanding the NHL Salary Cap
    Quotes From the End of the 2005 NHL Lockout
    NHL Free Agents Explained

    Sources: Various media outlets, including TSN.ca, Sportsnet.ca and GlobeandMail.com.

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