NHL Season Looks Like A Go

National Hockey League players and team owners reached a tentative salary agreement July 13th that should clear the way for this year’s hockey season. The players union is expected to approve the six-year agreement, even though it is not the deal the players were looking for.

An all-night bargaining session in New York City after weeks of intense negotiations resulted in a deal for a hard salary cap linked to league-wide revenues – mirroring a promise commissioner Gary Bettman made to team owners that any agreement would have “cost certainty.”

The first salary cap in league history would likely have a ceiling of $39 million and a minimum of around $22 million. Player salaries will not exceed 54 percent of league-wide revenues, expected to be around $1.8 billion. Players will also put money into escrow and, after each season, those funds will be used to balance out the set percentage based on actual revenues.

There were few other details released on the deal at press time, but extensive revenue sharing is expected to be part of the ratification, and there will be a modification of free agency to allow players freedom to switch teams before their 31st birthdays.

“At the end of the day, everybody lost,” Wayne Gretzky said of the more than 300-day lockout. The Great One and managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes added, “We almost crippled our industry. It was very disappointing what happened.”

“What we went through was necessary,” Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said. “We had to get some controls on our business and, certainly, I’m hoping that’s what the agreement does.”