Done Deal? NHL and NHLPA Reach Tentative Agreement

After 301 days of the NHL's lockout of the NHLPA, the two sides finally came to an agreement on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. The Board of Governors will vote on ratification of the deal on Thursday, while the NHLPA members will vote next Tuesday.

Details of the new agreement will not officially be available until after the deal is ratified but several reports - sometimes conflicting - have announced the major points of the proposal.

The NHLPA's offer of a 24% salary rollback will be accepted, lowering all existing contracts to 76% of their original values.

A team-by-team payroll range of $21 million to $39 million with player costs (including salaries, bonuses and insurance) not to exceed 54% of league-wide revenue. The payroll range will move up and down, tied to that 54%.

Unrestricted free agency will be granted at age 27 by the end of the deal. In 2005, the existing age of 31 will be used, it will drop to 29 in 2006, 28 in 2007, and finally to 27 in 2008.

One report states that there will be an individual player cap of 20% of a team's total payroll. This effectively sets an individual player cap at $7.8 million.

The deal could still be voted down by the players, as some players have recently stated that they think that the NHLPA is split evenly or even has a majority that would reject the deal. Other players, however, have declared that they would vote for a deal they knew was bad just to get back to playing.

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