After 310 days, the longest work stoppage the National Hockey League has ever seen has come to a close. With a unanimous vote by the Board of Governors, the league accepted the proposed collective bargaining agreement and ended its lockout of the players.
The NHL Players’ Association approved the deal on Thursday, with approximately 87% of the players in favor.
“With the ratification of the CBA, let me be the first to welcome you to our new season,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The new deal includes a salary cap at $39 million for the 2005-06 season. Each team will be required to spend $21.5 million on player salaries. Players will contribute 15% of their paychecks to an escrow fund to limit them to 54% of league revenues.
When the league returns in the fall it will be with a new look – a new silver and black league logo was unveiled Friday morning – and new rules.
Every game played will end with a winner and a loser, as a 3-man shootout will be used to break ties after a 4-on-4 overtime. The red line will be ignored to eliminate the old two-line pass rule. Goalies’ ability to play the puck will be restricted and their equipment smaller. Undoing recent rule changes, the nets will be moved two feet closer to the end boards and the “tag-up” offsides rule will be brought back.
Additionally, NHL players will take part in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, and the 2010 Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.