The NHL is one step closer to playing now that the Board of Governors has ratified and approved the new collective bargaining agreement. Next up is the players and the NHLPA. They are expected to ratify the agreement on Saturday.
What does that mean for the rest of us? Training camp should begin on Sunday, January 13, with games beginning on Saturday, January 19.
The Ducks get to open against the Vancouver Canucks and start their hockey season in Canada. They would have been "away" at this point regardless, because the Honda Center is being used for another event.
Apparently the Ducks were offered the glorious chance to play against the Los Angeles Kings for the first game. They passed. Do you really want to see your local rival raise their Stanley Cup banner? Nope. The Chicago Blackhawks will get that privilege.
As things have developed, it appears that the "regular" season will go through the end of April, with the playoffs beginning in May. The last date for the Stanley Cup to be played will be June 25.
Hopefully there will not be any more lockout nonsense for at least the next eight years (the first opportunity for either the NHL or NHLPA to opt out of the new CBA). Going a decade would be nice, though.
Players won by getting seven year maximum deals (eight for a team re-signing their own free agent). They also got the pension plan they were looking for. Owners were happy with contracts that had less wacky variance from year to year on long term contracts.
Both sides compromised on the salary cap, meeting in the middle at $64.3 million next season. and both will split revenues 50/50.
After the BOG approved the new CBA, commissioner Gary Bettman actually apologized to the fans.
"To the players who were very clear that they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labor contracts, to our partners who support the league … and most importantly to our fans who love and have missed NHL hockey, I'm sorry," said Bettman. "I know an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the last few months, but I owe you an apology nonetheless."
Yes Gary, you did. So do all the other owners. Two teams have apologized to their fans – the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes. Only 28 more to go. Many of the players, who have Twitter accounts, have tweeted their apologies already.
How soon will fans forget? Not very. But eventually they will soften for the sport they love and adore.