League, Union Reach Verbal Deal on New CBA

The National Hockey League's lockout of its Players' Association is not over, but it could be in a matter of days as the league and the union have reached a verbal agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The agreement was announced at 5:30 AM on Sunday after a marathon negotiating session that began early Saturday.

While key points have been agreed to, the final draft of the new CBA still needs to be written and both sides need to vote on it. Because of that, it's unknown when the 2013 season will actually begin. Reportedly, the league has prepared both a 50-game schedule and a 48-game schedule.

The new CBA reportedly includes a prorated $70 million cap for the 2013 season and a $64.3 million cap for 2013-14, after which it will be defined by 50% of hockey-related revenue. Two "compliance buyouts" will be allotted to each team during the 2013 offseason to help them get under the new cap.

Two new elements will be put in place to stop the "back-diving" contracts that tack extra years onto a deal at a low rate to lower the overall cap hit of a deal. One is that new contracts will be limited to seven years, unless a player is re-signing with his own team, in which case eight years are allowed. The other is that annual salary in a deal cannot drop more than 35% from year to year, and cannot drop more than 50% from its highest year.

Changes to salary arbitration and revenue sharing are also included, as well as the introduction of a "neutral third-party" to the supplemental discipline process.

The new deal is reportedly for ten years with an optional out after eight years.

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