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Better Late Than Never: Details of the Deal That Ends 2012-13 NHL Lockout

Marathon bargaining delivers a new deal in the early hours of January 6.

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Now that the NHL is back, are you ready to forgive and forget? Or did the lockout turn you against the NHL game? Share your thoughts.

Details are emerging on the new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players' Association. Here's what we know so far:

1) It's a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, ending after the 2021-22 season. But either side has the option to end it after eight years (following the 2019-20 season).

The league had been campaigning for a minimum 10-year deal, while the players reportedly wanted a term of six-to-eight years.

2) A 50/50 split of annual NHL revenues.
Both sides had previously agreed to this, but had been unable to agree on the implementation and transition to the new split.

3) The year one salary cap is $70.2 million, with a floor of $44 million. (Those are full-season numbers, which will be pro-rated to fit the shortened season.) The year two salary cap drops to $64.3 million. The floor remains at $44 million.

$70.2 million was projected to be the 2012-13 salary cap under the old CBA. $64.3 million was the cap in 2011-12.

The NHL had long insisted on a $60 million cap in year two, while the players started at $70 million before recently moving to $65 million.

4) The maximum length of future player contracts is seven years, or eight years for players remaining with current teams.

The NHL had originally been seeking a five-year limit. The players had proposed an eight-year maximum, with an option for teams to add extra years before a deal expires.

5) Each team is allowed two "compliance" contract buyouts prior to the 2013-14 season, to ease the transition to a lower salary cap. The cost of those buyouts will not be charged against the team's cap.

Under normal rules, bought out contracts count against the cap. With the compliance buyouts not available until next summer, the 2012-13 season becomes a high-pressure audition for players perceived as underachievers.

6) Over the life of a player contract, his year-to-year salary can vary by no more than plus or minus 35 percent. The final year's salary must be within 50 percent of the first year.

Significant movement by the NHL on this one. The league had earlier insisted on a year-to-year variance of five percent, while players had reportedly suggested 25 percent. The NHL allowed for a 10 percent variance in its New Year's Eve proposal.

7) Teams can retain salary and salary cap charges when trading players. The trading team can retain up to 50 percent of the salary and cap hit. It can carry no more than three "traded" salaries at one time, and the total paid to traded players cannot exceed 15 percent of the salary cap.

8) Adjustments to the draft lottery will give all 14 non-playoff teams the chance to win the top pick in the annual NHL Entry Draft.

9) Revenue sharing among teams is increased to a reported $200 million, with the inclusion of a $60 million "growth fund."

The original proposal from the NHLPA would have brought that number up to $250 million. Reports from last summer had the NHL seeking little change from the current revenue sharing formula, which distributed an estimated $140-$180 million every year.

10) A new process for supplemental discipline gives players the right to appeal to a neutral third party after receiving a suspension of six games or longer.

11) An improved pension plan is established for the players. The "defined-benefit" plan offers better security and higher payouts for retirees.

Fans might assume that all NHL players are millionaires, so why the fuss over pensions? But the bulk of players have short careers and retire by the age of 30. The median NHL salary is $1.4 million, meaning half of the workforce makes less than that. The NHLPA wanted to improve financial security for those "ordinary" employees.

12) Rules governing entry-level players, salary arbitration, and Group 3 unrestricted free agents will not change.

13) There is no decision on future Olympic or World Cup participation. The league and the players will negotiate future international play with the IIHF.

14) The minimum player salary rises from $525,000 in year one to $750,000 in year nine.

15) The players' playoff pool increases immediately from $6.5 million to $13 million, and to $17 million by end of the agreement.

More to come....

Sources: Assorted media outlets.

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