Let's play hockey! The National Hockey League and the players' association have struck a tentative collective bargaining agreement that could save the hockey season and end the 113-day lockout, USA Today reports. "There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon," Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters early Sunday morning after a marathon negotiating session with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh.
“We are very excited about today’s news that a tentative agreement is in place,” Matt Majka, Minnesota Wild Chief Operating Officer, said in a news release. “Like our fans, we look forward to the final approval of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and seeing our team back on the ice. Further information will be provided as soon as we receive it from the NHL.”
The 10-year deal, which includes a mutual opt-out after eight years, still needs to be ratified by the players and the NHL's Board of Governors before it's official, but the league expects to play at least a 48-game season that starts no later than Jan. 19, the Washington Post reports.
NBC Sports has details of the NHL's new CBA. which calls for a $64.3 million salary cap in the 2013-14 season and a seven-year cap on individual contracts, but teams can sign their own players for eight years.
“After months of discussions that seemed to go nowhere, the NHL players and NHL owners have finally come together to save what is left of the 2013 season," St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement. "Fundamentally, the end of the lockout means business owners in or near the Xcel Energy Center can get back to doing what they do best – supporting the fans of the Minnesota Wild. We know this lockout has had a profound effect on business owners and workers in Saint Paul and our community is thrilled the players and the owners have reached an agreement. Let’s play hockey!”
“I don’t know how long it’s been since our last game – eight months or something like that – you’re relieved, you’re happy and excited all at the same time,” Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom told the Star Tribune. “It feels almost like your first hockey game all over again.”
“Finally. Awesome news, huh? Really excited, Holy cow. It’s been such a long deal, and it’s been such a sad thing for the game, so to be able to put it behind and get a deal done and get back on the ice, I can’t tell you how excited I am," added veteran Matt Cullen.
Businesses and restaurants around the Xcel Energy Center, which depend on Minnesota Wild home-games, have lost thousands of dollars and had to layoff employeesduring the NHL work stoppage. One restaurant owner told KARE 11 that business was down 35 to 45 percent compared to a typical winter.
Last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated an agreement had to be reached by Jan. 11 or the entire season would be cancelled.