After 119 days, the National Hockey League's lockout of its players' association officially ended on Saturday night, with the two sides signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the details of a new collective bargaining agreement.
The framework for a new CBA had been agreed upon after a marathon negotiation session that in the late morning on January 5 and ended with a press conference at 5:30 AM on January 6. The NHL's Board of Governors voted in favor of adopting the framework on January 9 while the NHL Players' Association completed their vote in favor at 8:00 AM on Saturday.
The exact wording of the new CBA will continue to be worked on but the Memorandum of Understanding allows the sides to move forward as if the full agreement were in place. Training camps league-wide are scheduled to open on Sunday with the new 48-game regular season schedule kicking off on January 19.
Highlights of the new CBA include a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue between players and owners. To help get to that split, each team will have two "compliance buyouts" that don't count against the salary cap, for use during the 2013 or 2014 offseasons. Additionally, the 2013 salary cap will be artificially set to a pro-rated $70 million - the same has it would have been under the old CBA - and the 2013-2014 cap will be $64.3 million.
Rules to prevent "back-diving" contracts are now in place. Contracts are now limited to seven years (eight if a player is re-signing with his current team) and annual salary cannot drop more than 35% from season to season during a deal. No year's salary can be less than 50% of the highest annual salary of the contract.
There are also new rules regarding penalties for cases when a player retires before the end of a back-diving contract, options for trades to include part of a player's cap hit, changes to revenue sharing and arbitration, and the introduction of a "neutral third-party" to the supplemental discipline process.
The new CBA will be for ten years, with each side having the ability to opt out after eight years.
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