Sunday, January 6, 2013

The NHL is Back!

After months of deliberation, the NHLPA and the league itself have finally managed to come to a tentative agreement. Although not everything has been finalized, the key aspects of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement have been agreed upon and all major hurdles have been jumped. At this point it's safe to say a deal should be completed in due time and there will be a 2013 NHL season (however shortened it may be).

Here are some of the key aspects of the deal that have already been confirmed:

$64.3 Million Hard Cap
The NHLPA was able to get the NHL to raise the salary cap figure they had originally desired from $60 million to $64.3 million for this upcoming season

$44 Million Salary Floor
The salary floor for the season has been dropped to $44 million, $4 million down from the 2011-2012 campaign

Increased Revenue Sharing
Revenue sharing for the league will be set at $200 million with the potential for $60 million in growth over the life of the CBA

Changes to Disciplinary Appeals Process
The suspension/disciplinary appeals policy has received a minor change as well. Now, any appeals on suspensions of over six games will not only go through Gary Bettman's office but also a neutral third party.

No Realignment
Unfortunately, the league has decided not to realign the divisions/conferences this year, so the Winnipeg Jets will still be stuck in the Southeast division. Disappointing for many Canadian fans from the west and/or plains areas who would've liked to see the Jets duke it out with the likes of Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver six times a year.

What could this shortened season mean for the teams' performances this year? Realistically it should be of major benefit to the older teams in the league. The reason being two-fold: firstly, the older teams tend to have better chemistry and more experience playing with each other, so a team like the Red Wings should take less time to gel than the Oilers for example. Secondly, a lot of the league's older teams struggle with the grind of the regular season, and tend to see a significant drop in performance in the last dozen or so games before the playoffs roll around. Those games won't be there in a shortened season, and as a result we might see some veteran teams grabbing high seeds heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

With a condensed schedule, hockey fans should get a taste of what the NBA's fanbase did last year; having their favorite teams playing on almost a nightly basis. We're just glad to have hockey back, and it should be a thrilling season!