The NHL and NHL Players' Association reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.
While there has been no confirmation of when the season starts, some reports say there are two possible opening nights for the NHL season: a 50-game schedule beginning on Jan. 15 or, at the latest, a 48-game docket up-and-running on Jan. 19.
Here are some of the main highlights of the tentative agreement (in U.S. dollars):
- The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will run for 10 years through 2021-22, with an option to terminate the deal after eight years.
- Players receive defined benefit pension plan.
- Owners and players split revenue 50-50 each season, with the players receiving $300 million in deferred "make-whole payments" to ease the transition from previous system.
- A pro-rated salary cap of $70.2-million for the shortened 2012-13 season followed by a salary cap of $64.3-million in 2013-14. The salary floor will be set at $44 million for both years.
- Seven-year limit on free-agent contracts (eight-year limit when a team signs its own player to an extension).
- A maximum salary variance of 35 per cent from year to year, with no more than a 50 per cent total difference between any two seasons in the contract.
- The minimum salary starts at $525,000 this season and reaches $750,000 for the 10th and final year of the agreement.
- Teams can only walk away from a player in salary arbitration who is awarded at least $3.5 million.
- Each team will be given the option of two "amnesty buyouts" that can be used to terminate contracts prior to the 2013-14 season or 2014-15 season. The buyouts will cost two-thirds of the remaining amount on a deal — paid evenly over twice its remaining length — and will count against the players' overall share in revenues, but not the individual team's salary cap.
- Revenue sharing between teams increased to $200 million annually.
- Any player on a one-way contract who plays in the American Hockey League with a salary in excess of the NHL's minimum salary plus $375,000 will have the excess amount charged against his team's salary cap.
- Unrestricted free agency continues to open on July 1.
- The participation of NHLers in future Olympics has yet to be determined. The decision will be made outside of the CBA.