If there was ever an appropriate time to quote Eminem, that time is now.
After a 113 day lockout, guess who’s back? Back again?
That’s right. The NHL and the NHLPA have finally reached a tentative agreement to end the second longest lockout in league history and the third lockout under current commissioner Gary Bettman. News of the deal spread over Twitter early this morning and it has since taken over the regular sports channels.
Hockey commentators will definitely be earning their pay cheques today.
The exact details of the new agreement are still sparse and the two sides have yet to agree on a final, formal version of the agreement. Having said that, it sounds like the players won out on many of their demands.
Again, please keep in mind that many of the details have not been finalized, but the league’s demand for 5-year contract limits has been reportedly pushed up to seven years; the league’s demand for a 10% variance in terms of the value of a contract between years has been reportedly pushed up to 35%; the league’s demand for a $60 million cap has been reportedly pushed up to $64.5 million; and the league’s demand for a new ten-year CBA has been reportedly diluted by allowing for either side to opt out of the new agreement after only eight years.
Such an opt out option was something that the players demanded, and it is seen as one of the important sticks that they will hold in the future to keep the league in check.
Another interesting part of the tentative agreement concerns the buyout of current contracts. While teams have been reportedly granted two buyouts each, they can only use the buyouts during the next two summers. This means Mike Komisarek will likely endure one more season in Toronto (and let’s hope Tim Connolly is quick to follow him!) before getting cut free unless the Leafs are somehow able to move him to New York’s second hockey team this season, which has been a rumored trade in the past.
Cody Franson could easily fill Komisarek’s spot on the Leafs’ blueline and the extra playing time should allow the young defenceman to better demonstrate his natural offensive talent. I just hope the team doesn’t buyout Carlton the Bear.
Speaking of the Islanders, I wonder how they’ll use their buyouts. Rick DiPietro should definitely be cut and Alexei Yashin remains on the Islanders’ books, making a fairly decent hit against their annual cap limit, but this is a team that isn’t known for making the right decisions.
(I’m not entirely sure if or how a team can buyout a player who has already been bought out once but the Islanders desperately need to remove Yashin from their books. John Tavares is due an over payment.)
We won’t know the full extent of the new CBA until the league and the players agree on its final form. The details above are based on initial statements and can be considered speculative for this reason. It’s possible that these details can still be changed or that they’re just plain ol’ wrong. In any event, from what has been said, it sounds like the players won out on many of their demands against the league.
Of course, it would be nice to say that the fans are the ultimate winner of any new agreement, but after missing most of the current NHL season so a bunch of millionaires and billionaires could duke it out in private, this would be a bold-faced lie.
I cannot wait for the return of NHL hockey, but it will probably never be the same again. My love for the game is now shaded by cynicism and this is something that neither the NHL nor the NHLPA can repair over the short-term.
Alas, it’s finally time to drop the puck. Go Leafs go!
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