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NHL, Union Reach Tentative Agreement [VIDEO/POLL]

The NHL and the players’ association reached a tentative agreement early Sunday to end a nearly four-month-old lockout that threatened to wipe out the season with play expected to begin by January 19.

“I just think it’s a great day for hockey,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told the Star Ledger about the deal. “Everything that transpired is in the past and what we have to do is work towards getting ready.”

Nothing yet has been announced about games or training camp.However, ESPN.com reports that both sides would like to return to play as quickly as possible and depending on when the deal is ratified by players, a 48 game season could begin on January 19.Lamoriello could not confirm when the Devils would begin play again.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr announce a tentative deal to end the NHL lockout.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (L) and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr announce a tentative deal to end the NHL lockout. (NHL.com)

A marathon negotiating session that lasted more than 16 hours, stretching from early Saturday afternoon until just before 6 a.m. EST Sunday morning produced a 10-year deal that still must be ratified by the players.

“We have to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at an early morning press conference. “We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the League side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well. We are not in a position to give you information right now about schedule, when we are starting.

The deal includes a 10 year collective bargain agreement that will allow an opt-out after 8. Contracts will be for a maximum of  7 years or 8 years for a player re-signing with a team. The salary cap for the 2012-13 season will be $70.2 million, and it will go down to $64.3 million in the 2013-14 season.

ESPN.com reports that revenue sharing will “spread $200 million,” which includes a $60 million NHLPA-initiated growth fund. Players stood firm on free agency beginning on July 1 and not July 10 as owners wanted although the date will likely be delayed anyway this year due to the lockout.

A separate agreement on Olympic and World Cup play will be worked out in future talks.

After the sides stayed mostly apart for two days, following late-night talks that turned sour, federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh worked virtually around the clock to get the sides back to the bargaining table.

DETAILS OF THE DEAL

  • 10-year deal, and each side is able to opt out after eight.
  • Free-agent contracts are limited to a maximum length of seven years, but clubs can go to eight years to re-sign their own players.
  • Players’ share of hockey-related income drops from 57 percent to a 50-50 split.
  • The salary cap for the upcoming season is $70.2 million, and it will go down to $64.3 million in the 2013-14 season.
  • The salary in individual player contracts can’t vary more than 35 percent year to year, and the final year can’t be more than 50 percent of the highest year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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