Good morning, Philadelphia.
You can start your day with good news: After 113 days, the NHL lockout is over.
The NHL and the players' union reached a tentative agreement near 5 a.m. Sunday on a 10-year CBA, putting an end to a work stoppage that lasted nearly four months.
Tweeted Flyers forward Max Talbot: "Thanks/sorry Fans media and everyone affected by this lockout. Never a fun situation. Now lets go play some hockey !"
The agreement ended a long, contentious battle between players and owners, with NHL commissioner Garry Bettman and union boss Donald Fehr portrayed as the villains.
"I wasn't a fan of the game, either, the last few months," Flyers center Claude Giroux told TSN in Canada.
The league is expected to announce a 48- or 50-game schedule, perhaps as early as Monday. A 50-game season would start Jan. 15, while a 48-gamer would begin Jan. 19.
With a federal mediator leading the way, the sides reached the agreement, which has to be ratified by the players' union, after 16 hours of negotiating Saturday and into Sunday.
The NHL accepted a $64.3 million cap in the second year of the CBA, and the players agreed to a seven-year maximum on individual contratcs _ eight if a team resigns one of its players. There will be a maximum salary variance of 35 percent from year to year, an attempt to stop the front-loaded or back-diving deals that management was using to lower the overall cap hit of players such as the Flyers' Chris Pronger.
This season, the salary cap will be $70.2 million, pro-rated over 48 or 50 games. The cap floor will be $44 million for each of the next two seasons.
The owners and players will have a 50/50 split of hockey-related revnue _ the union received 57 percent in the last CBA. The players will also receive $300 million in deferred "make whole" payments to ease the transition.
Prior to the 2013-14 or 2014-15 seasons, there will be a maximum of two amnesty buyouts that clubs are allowed to use. According to reports, the buyouts will cost two-thirds of the remaining amount on a contract and will count against the players' overall share in revenues, but not against the team's salary cap.
On the pension plan, the league reportedly agreed to share limited longterm liability with the union.
Scot Beckenbaugh will live in NHL lore. He's the federal mediator who led the negotiations the last two days and guided the sides to a settlement.
The deal got done at around 5 a.m. A short time later, Flyers all-star winger Scott Hartnell was texting his teammates: "Deal done, boys."
In the new CBA, the sides have an opt-out after eight years. Still, the agreement ensures there will be labor peace until the end of 2019-20 _ and perhaps beyond.
“We have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper,” Bettman told reporters while standing next Fehr, the NHLPA executive director. “We’ve got to dot a lot of I’s and cross a lot of T’s. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework of the deal has been agreed upon.”
Fehr was analytical when describing the arduous process that lasted nearly four months.
“A negotiation like this in the system that we have is difficult. It can be long,” he said. “I’ve said repeatedly throughout this process if somebody would say, ‘What do you see ahead?’ and the answer was you get up tomorrow and try to find a way to do it and you keep doing that until you find a way to succeed."
The Canadian Press reported that the NHL's minimum salary starts at $525,000 and reaches $750,000 for the 10th year of the CBA.
Training camps are expected to open before Saturday. An announcement could come later Sunday.
In the lockout-delayed 1995 season, the schedule opened Jan. 20 and the trade deadline was pushed back to April 7. The playoffs started May 6 and ended June 24, when New Jersey completed its sweep of Detroit.
The NHL is expected to finalize this season's key dates_ along with the date for the start of summer free agency _ later this week.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.