HabsWorld.net -- 

The long wait is over.  After an
excruciatingly long 301 days for hockey fans, the NHL lockout is set to end. 
This is not the first time we have heard rumors of an imminent deal, but this
time the rumors are true.  It has been announced that a draft for a
collective bargaining agreement is on its way to both the NHL Board of
Commissioners and the NHL players.  For the first time in the negotiations,
these two bodies will have the chance to read over an agreement (all 600 pages
of it) and vote on it.  All that is needed to ratify the agreement is a
simple majority vote from both sides.

The question now becomes whether or not the
deal will be ratified.  From the owners point of view, they have won. 
They have gotten the cap that they have tried so hard to get.  The salary
cap is also linked to league revenue, another key point for the owners. 
For these reasons and others, it is expected that the owners will accept Gary
Bettman’s recommendation and ratify the deal.

The players, though they have lost quite a bit,
will likely ratify the deal as well.  The players have lost an entire
year’s worth of salary and a whole year of playing the game they love on its
highest level.  Many players, such as Jaromir Jagr have admitted that the
players know they have lost and that they must accept that they wasted a year
for very little.  Over the course of the last few months, it appeared as
though union head Bob Goodenow’s stance was becoming weaker and weaker. 
The NHL players want to get back on the ice, so hopefully they will cut their
losses and ratify the deal.

With that said, Game On.  There will be hockey in NHL rinks.  No longer will people feel a strange feeling of sadness when driving by their hometown NHL arena on their way to work.  No longer will people have to wonder if there will ever be hockey again.  No longer will Canadians be forced to live without their past-time.  No longer will American NHL fans be the target of their friends’ jokes.  Now, we have our hockey back.

Details of the deal will be released to the press in time, but as of now, this is what is known:

-The deal will cover the next six years

-A 39 million dollar salary cap, with a 21.5 million dollar minimum.

-A 24% rollback on all salaries

-A minimum contract will be 450,000 and the maximum contract will be 7.4 million

-Within four years, the age for unrestricted free agency will be 27

More details will be become available as the 600 page deal is released to both sides’ members and the press.

Now, it is time to start talking hockey.  No longer will the focus be on the nasty dispute between the owners and players.  It is time to put that in the past.  Now fans can finally focus on free agency, the upcoming draft, and the first training camps since 2003.  The NHL will never be the same.  We just have to hope that nothing like this ever happens again.

Who’s ready for Hockey Night in Canada?