It took 16 hours of talks in New York on Saturday, with concessions from both sides. It took 113 days. A total of 625 regular-season games were sacrificed, or over half the 2012-13 season. It took months of bitter sniping, petty politics, false hope and broken hearts.
But at around 5 a.m. on Jan. 6, the word finally spread around the hockey world: The NHL and the NHLPA had reached a verbal agreement on a tentative framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Drop the puck. The NHL will be finally back, with a 10-year CBA solidified between union chief Donald Fehr and Commissioner Gary Bettman. As Fehr said, via Sportsnet: "Any process like this is difficult; it can be long...we have the framework of a deal."
Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports some details:
Deal to end NHL lockout tentative with 10-year CBA (opt-out after 8 years), 7-year contract limit (8 for own players) and $64.3 M cap '13-14.
Thatís right: After the NHL asked for a $60 million cap, the players got the League to move all the way to $64.3.
The deal ends an ordeal that began on June 29, 2012, when collective bargaining started between the two sides. That led to a July 13 proposal from the NHL that may have set back negotiations for months: One that included a dramatic drop in the playersí share of revenue from 57 percent down to 43 percent, galvanizing the union.
The NHLPA made its first offer on Aug. 14, as Donald Fehr surprised the NHL by not taking a run at the salary cap.
The lockout formally began at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sept. 15, 2012, after both sides tendered offers. The NHLís next big offer arrived in October, which included a 50/50 split in revenue and a start date of Nov. 2.
That offer didnít get the deal done, and the 2013 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs paid the price in the next round of cancellations.
December produced some high drama: Meetings between the players and owners without Bettman and Fehr in the room; mediation with the U.S. federal government; and several proposals that saw both sides inch closer to a resolution.
Mediator Scot Beckenbaugh returned to the talks last week, acting as a go-between and then eventually bringing the sides together on Saturday. With the NHLPA's disclaimer of interest and the NHL's potential drop-dead date of Jan. 11 looming, the sides finally dedicated themselves to saving the season with a marathon session.
The deal was finally completed, pending ratification from the owners and players.
Game on, with a shortened season expected to begin on Jan. 19 or earlier. Perhaps a 50-game season?
"Lace 'em up!"