April 3, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) skates past the bench after a fight with Pittsburgh Penguins left wing James Neal (not pictured) during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

NHL LOCKOUT: Day 113 -THE LOCKOUT IS OVER!

This is not a gag, this is not a joke, or a hallucination. As of 5:02 AM EST, the 113 day lockout(the second longest in NHL history) was officially ended. The tentative agreement is slated to be a ten year deal.  The new CBA has a mutual opt-out clause after eight years.  Contract term limits at seven years (eight years for a team to re-sign its own players). It is not entirely clear whether the NHL will aim for a forty-eight or fifty game season. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun believes that the fifty game season would start on the fifteenth, and the forty eight game season would start on the ninteenth.

Here are the major points that were gleaned from various sources:

— Players receive defined benefit pension plan.

— Owners and players split revenue 50-50 each season, with the players receiving $300 million in deferred “make-whole payments” to ease the transition from previous system.

— A pro-rated salary cap of $70.2-million for the shortened 2012-13 season followed by a salary cap of $64.3-million in 2013-14. The salary floor will be set at $44 million for both years.

— Seven-year limit on free-agent contracts (eight-year limit when a team signs its own player to an extension).

— A maximum salary variance of 35 per cent from year to year, with no more than a 50 per cent total difference between any two seasons in the contract.

— The minimum salary starts at $525,000 this season and reaches $750,000 for the 10th and final year of the agreement.

— Teams can only walk away from a player in salary arbitration who is awarded at least $3.5 million.

— Each team will be given the option of two “amnesty buyouts” that can be used to terminate contracts prior to the 2013-14 season or 2014-15 season. The buyouts will cost two-thirds of the remaining amount on a deal — paid evenly over twice its remaining length — and will count against the players’ overall share in revenues, but not the individual team’s salary cap.

— Revenue sharing between teams increased to $200 million annually

— Any player on a one-way contract who plays in the American Hockey League with a salary in excess of the NHL’s minimum salary plus $375,000 will have the excess amount charged against his team’s salary cap.

— Unrestricted free agency continues to open on July 1.

As anyone who reads my material, I sort of have my own Bruins ‘holy trinity’ for players. Marchand the snarky, Thornton the avenger, and Bergeron the saint. As of this morning, there is a fourth Bruin to add to the pantheon. Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was in the CBA negotiations for the last few days. I posted how I believed his intelligence, and his willingness to factor in the fans would help push a deal forward and get the players back on the ice. Ference, the class act that he is sent out a punch of posts this morning to the faithful this morning.

“As players we can now do what we do best. Proudly pull on our jerseys and play with complete passion for our cities and fans. I hope that we can replace the intense negativity brought on our sport with a reminder of how great it can be when the action is on the ice.  From my grandparents to our B’s fans, I am deeply sorry that we had to miss so much hockey. All we can do now is play our hearts out for you.”

Forgive the personal liberty, but you have always played your heart out for us Andrew. The entire team has. The fact that I will get to grab my ‘Bruins brother’ and get one game on home ice makes a very tired soldier feel ten years younger. Thank you for considering the fans as well as yourselves in the negotiations. I know that if any man in the NHL has the intelligence and integrity to help restore a damaged brand, and make the NHL relevant in all things sport again, it is you. I am happy to have you as part of ‘my team’, and I’m thrilled to know that the Bruins will be skating again.

LET’S GO BRUINS!

 

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