Drop the puck: NHL, players settle labor dispute
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This deal was reached with the assistance of Scot Beckenbaugh of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a veteran of the 2004-05 NHL talks, then Major League Soccer's negotiations in 2010 and NFL and NBA talks the following year. Beckenbaugh spent Friday walking back and forth between the league's office and the hotel where players were staying, meeting with each side to set up the final talks.
"Fans throughout North America will have the opportunity to return to a favorite past time and thousands of working men and women and small businesses will no longer be deprived of their livelihoods," said George Cohen, the FMCS director.
Sam Flood, NBC Sports' executive producer, said his production team was "counting the seconds until the season begins." NBC announcer Mike Emrick said players will have more pressure because of the shortened schedule.
"The effect of even a two-game losing streak will be four," he said
The NHL's revenue of $3.3 billion last season lagged well behind the NFL ($9 billion), Major League Baseball ($7.5 billion) and the NBA ($5 billion), and the deal will lower the hockey players' percentage from 57 to 50 — owners originally had proposed 46 percent.
This was the third lockout among the major U.S. sports in a period of just over a year. A four-month NFL lockout ended in July 2011 with the loss of only one exhibition game, and an NBA lockout caused each team's schedule to be cut from 82 games to 66 last season.
As part of the deal:
—Players will receive $300 million in transition payments over three years to account for existing contracts, pushing their revenue share over 50 percent at the start of the deal.
—Players gained a defined benefit pension plan for the first time.
—The salary cap for this season will be $70.2 million before prorating to adjust for the shortened season, and the cap will drop to $64.3 million in 2013-14 — the same amount as 2011-12. There will be a salary floor of $44 million in those years.
—Free agents will be limited to contracts of seven years (eight for those re-signed with their former club).
—Salaries within a contract may not vary by more than 35 percent year to year, and the lowest year must be at least 50 percent of the highest year.
—There were no changes to eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.
—The threshold for teams to release players in salary arbitration will increase from $1.75 million to $3 million.
—Each team may use two buyouts to terminate contracts before the 2013-14 or 2014-15 seasons for two-thirds of the remaining guaranteed income. The buyout will be included in the players' revenue share but not the salary cap.
—The minimum salary will remain at $525,000 this season and will rise to $750,000 by 2021-12.
—Either side may terminate the deal after the 2019-20 season.
—Revenue sharing will increase to $200 million annually and rise with revenue.
—An industry growth fund of $60 million will be funded by the sides over three years and replenished as need.
—Participation of NHL and its players in the 2014 Sochi Olympics will be determined later in discussions also involving the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, and Associated Press Writer David N. Goodman in Detroit contributed to this report.
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