NHL, Players reach tentative agreement on new CBA framework
NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association reached agreement on the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement early Sunday morning.
After a marathon 16-plus hour negotiating session at the Sofitel Hotel that began Saturday afternoon, the sides announced an agreement in principle shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday.
"We still have more work to do, but it is good to be at this point," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The League did not announce the start date of the season or the number of games each team will play. Various reports suggest teams will play either 50-game schedules or 48-game schedules, depending on the date on which the season starts. Those details will be announced soon, Commissioner Bettman said.
The deal, agreed to at approximately 4:40 a.m., was announced jointly by Commissioner Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr in the same hotel conference room where the negotiations were conducted with the assistance of Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director for Mediation Services for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
"Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper," Commissioner Bettman said. "We have to dot a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon.
"We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the League side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well. We are not in a position to give you information right now about schedule, when we are starting. It's early in the morning and we have been at this all day and all night, obviously. But, we will be back to you very shortly, hopefully, later today with more information in that regard."
The Board of Governors is expected to meet later this week to conduct its ratification process.
Fehr, meanwhile expressed an eagerness for his constituency to get back to playing hockey after a negotiation that stretched across 113 days.
"Any process like this in the system we have is difficult; it can be long," Fehr said. "I've said repeatedly throughout this process, somebody would say, 'What do you see ahead?' And, the answer was, 'You get up tomorrow and you try to find a way to do it and you keep doing that until you find a way to succeed.
"As Gary just indicated, we have the framework of a deal. We have to do the legal work and we have to do the constituent-communication work. At least, from my [standpoint], and I'm sure Gary's too, we need to let them know the details before we tell all of you. Having said that, hopefully, we're at a place where all those things will proceed fairly rapidly and with some dispatch and we'll get back to what we used to call business as usual as fast as we can."
According to multiple reports, the deal spans 10 years with an out option for either side after eight years. It also reportedly features a seven-year limit on new player contracts (extended to eight for players re-signing with their own team).
Additionally, these reports say the sides agreed on a salary cap of $64.3 for the 2013-14 season with the floor resting at $44 million. For this season, the cap will reportedly be at $70.2 million. To be able to meet the reduced cap number in 2013-14, each team will be allowed the option of two compliance buyouts before the start of that season, again according to reports. The buyout money reportedly does not count against the salary cap of the team buying out the player, rather it is counted against the players' share of hockey-related revenue.
"Everyone’s obviously relieved that it’s over and done with for all intents and purposes and we’re able to move on to what all enjoy doing,” said Phoenix captain Shane Doan, who was at the negotiating table for the final session.
Beckenbaugh, the federal mediator, played a big part in the eventual settlement, according to both Commissioner Gary Bettman and Fehr. Beckenbaugh took part in these negotiations at three different junctures of the overall process and worked with both sides for five days before the deal was finalized Sunday morning.
"I want to recognize the extraordinary contribution that my colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director for Mediation Services, made in providing herculean assistance of the highest caliber to the parties throughout the most critical periods in the negotiations," FMCS Director George Cohen said as part of a statement.
The new CBA, which still must be drafted and formally approved by both parties, replaces the agreement that expired Sept. 15.