NHL and NHLPA Announce New Collective Bargaining Agreement

The National Hockey League and its Players' Association have announced that they have concluded negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that will be in place for the 2012-13 NHL season.  The new agreement has a 6-year lifespan, with NHLPA options to extend for two more beyond that, and it will replace the existing agreement that expires September 15, 2012.

The announcement was posted at the the NHL and NHLPA websites:

"The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Details of the new Agreement will not be made available publicly pending the formal ratification process by NHLPA Members and the NHL Board of Governors. It is anticipated that the ratification process will be completed next week, at which time the parties will be prepared to discuss the details of the Agreement and plans for next season. No further comment will be made until then."

The new agreement is considered a giant leap forward by both the owners and the players.  One source referencing both the the labour action taking place in the National Football League, and the anticipated labour unrest that will occur in the National Basketball Association, commented that "the owners and players flirted with annihilation once and had no urge to dance on the edge of armageddon again, everyone wins with this new deal".

Sources within the NHLPA are reportedly very happy with the freedoms won for players under the new CBA, "teams can now exceed the Salary Cap and we expect some of the teams to act accordingly".  Likewise, sources within the NHL note how happy they are to have rid themselves of ubiquitous No Trade Clauses and gained a limitation on the total number of years that can be ascribed to a contract.

Hundreds of pages in length, the new deal completely overhauls the NHL economic system, revamping the way the revenue sharing and the salary cap works as well reworking the free agency rules.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TENTATIVE AGREEMENT

  • A six-year agreement, with the NHL Players' Association holding options to terminate it after the sixth year or extend it to an eighth year.
  • Salary cap is again tied to league-wide revenues and teams will only be able to exceed the Cap by use of strictly controlled exceptions, some of which are only available every second year or when a team is trying to sign it's own free agents.
  • The player's portion of Hockey Related Income (HRI) will be set at a minimum of 57% for the duration of the agreement.  Under certain conditions the player's percentage of HRI can rise as high 58%.
  • A team that exceeds the Salary Cap will eventually incur a financial penalty, the penalty will be $1 for every $1 of salary over the threshold.
  • Revenue sharing will only be shared by those teams that are below the Salary Cap, they will split an unspecified pool of money from the teams that pay penalties for exceeding the penalty threshold.
  • No player can earn more than 20 percent of his team's salary cap and contracts will be limited to a maximum of 6 years in length (known as the DiPietro Rule).
  • Player contracts are no longer averaged, or prorated and allocated according to the number of games played with a team, for purposes of calculating the Salary Cap (known as the Kovalchuk Rule).
  • No trade clauses will be limited under the new agreement; players will have had to be (both) playing in the NHL for 8 years and with the team with whom they are signing the contract for 4 years before being able to add a NTC into their contract.
  • Players will be able to negotiate a trade bonus - added salary that accrues to the contract only if the player is traded - to be paid by the team receiving the player in trade.
  • Rookies drafted in the 1st round of any given year's Entry Draft will be slotted in to a specific salary grid that would be tied to the Salary Cap.  Contracts will be 5 years in length with the first two years being guaranteed; the next two years being team options and the final year being a qualifying offer.
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