Only a union vote stands in the way of ending a 113-day NHL lockout. A tentative deal was reached Sunday. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the 10-year deal is largely the handiwork of mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh, who eased tensions and smoothed contentious issues during a 16-hour bargaining session that ended with detailed framework of a new collective bargaining agreement around 4 a.m. ET Sunday.
“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,” 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.”
Bettman had set a drop-dead date of Jan. 11 to complete a deal and fears were widespread that a full season would be lost as it was in 2004-05.
The union said the goal is to begin the regular season no later than Jan. 19 with every team playing at least 48 games. Specific scheduling details were one of the primary issues left to sort out.
The salary cap for the first year is set at $60 million, but teams have an allowance of up to $70.2 million in the transition period. The salary floor — the minimum player salary payroll for every team — is $44 million.
Beckenbaugh was able to get each side to make major concessions, and introduced a pension plan as a solution to the heated debate over revenue splits. The last CBA afforded players a 57 percent cut.
Discussions didn’t resolve whether players would participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics which could work against the league’s plan to establish a World Cup of Hockey.
The new CBA calls for a variance of 35 percent on multi-year contracts, a huge jump from the 5 percent owners wanted.
The free agency period will still begin July 1; players were hoping for a 10-day gap to at least the second week of July. Because of the lockout, the 2013 season won’t likely end until the last week of June.
The players’ union said its position hasn’t changed after four months of hardball negotiations with owners.
“Any process like this in the system we have is difficult,” said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. “It can be long. I’ve said repeatedly throughout this process that — when somebody would say what do you see ahead, the answer is 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.”