Brush the dust off your hockey sticks!
The National Hockey League and the players' association have reached a tentative agreement after a lockout that lasted almost four months, ESPN reports.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, the executive director of the players' association, announced the new collective bargaining agreement together early Sunday.
The deal still needs language clarification, legal fine-tuning and ratification on both sides, but the two parties reached a verbal agreement on all major points. The agreement also still requires majority approval from both the board of governors — which could happen as early as Tuesday — and the players association membership before the deal can become official. The tentative deal is for 10 years with a mutual opt-out clause after eight and contract term limits at seven.
Among the issues at stake during the lockout: the NHL had hoped to change the opening of free agency to July 10, but it will remain on July 1. It will also start later this year due to the delayed season. Because of the delayed season, the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs are expected to extend into the end of June.
ESPN reports that, depending on how quickly an official deal is completed, a 50-game season would start on Jan. 15, while a 48-game season would start on Jan. 19. This would be similar to the shortened 1994-95 season when a lockout resulted in a 48-game schedule. 468 games were missed during that 104-day lockout. During the 2004-05 season, a 310-day lockout resulted in 1,230 games being missed.
Are you happy that professional hockey is coming back?