NHL, Union Reach Tentative Agreement To End Lockout

USAToday reports Federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh brought owners and players together, but in the end, fear of losing a second NHL season prompted the two sides to reach an agreement to end a 113-day lockout and schedule an abbreviated NHL season.

Details of the 2012-13 season have not yet been announced, but a new 10-year collective-bargaining agreement was tentatively agreed to just before 5 a.m. ET..

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework of the deal has been agreed upon,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

The deal must still be ratified by members of the NHL Players’ Association, but that is expected to be a formality.

“Hopefully within just a very few days, the fans can get to watching people who are skating and not the two of us,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said.

It took more than 16 hours of negotiations Saturday into Sunday, with the big hurdles finally cleared when the players’ new pension plan was resolved, the NHL accepted a $64.3 million salary cap for the second year and players accepted a seven-year cap on individual contracts. Teams can sign their own players for eight years.

The big win for owners is that the share of hockey-related revenue is now a 50-50 split. The last CBA ended with players receiving 57% of revenue.

The new CBA also calls for a year-to-year variance limit of 35% on multi-year contracts, and the lowest season cannot be less than 50% of the highest. Originally, owners wanted a 5% variance.

Although the CBA is for 10 years, there is an opt-out clause at eight years.

It is believed that NHL players will end up playing in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, but it is not part of this agreement.

Bettman had given the sides a drop-dead date of Jan. 11 to reach a deal. One was reached five days early when Beckenbaugh managed to get the sides back together on Friday with shuttle diplomacy after things looked they were falling apart on Thursday when the union sought a second vote to authorize a “disclaimer of interest” that would allow the executive board to dissolve the NHLPA.

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