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NHL owners unanimously approve labor deal
Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who forged a Hall of Fame playing career over 22 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, isn’t concerned about getting adjusted to the new deal because the key issue of the salary cap isn’t all that different.
“As things go along, every change you make, every rule you put in whether it’s on ice or off ice, generally has unforeseen consequences that come up with it,” said Yzerman, who retired one season after the 2004-05 lockout. “I don’t see it being terribly difficult.
“Over the next year or two the market will readjust and that will sort itself out.”
The agreement is for 10 years, but either side can opt out after eight. The previous deal was in effect for seven seasons.
“It’s one that will stand the test of time with a system where all teams can be competitive and have a chance to make the playoffs and even win the Stanley Cup,” Bettman said. “It guarantees that our attention from now on will stay where it belongs, on the ice.”
After the players vote to ratify, clubs can begin the process of winning back fans. Bettman declined to give specifics because he didn’t want to be presumptuous that the union would give its approval.
“The National Hockey League has the responsibility to earn back your trust and support, whether you watch one game or every game,” Bettman said. “That effort begins today. The players are ready to play their hearts out for you, the teams are preparing to welcome you back with open arms, the wait is just about over.
“Like all of you, we can’t wait to drop the puck.”
The NHL won’t release the new schedule until players ratify the deal. The regular season was supposed to begin Oct. 11, but the lockout wrecked those plans after it took effect Sept. 16.
The outdoor Winter Classic and the All-Star game won’t be played this season.
Last season, the NHL generated $3.3 billion of revenue, and the new deal will lower the players’ percentage from 57 to 50.
Players will receive $300 million in transition payments over three years to account for existing contracts, pushing their revenue share over 50 percent at the start of the deal. They also gained a defined benefit pension plan for the first time.
The salary cap for this season will be $70.2 million before prorating to adjust for the shortened season, and the cap will drop to $64.3 million in 2013-14 _ the same amount as 2011-12. There will be a salary floor of $44 million in those years.
Free agents will be limited to contracts of seven years (eight for those re-signed with their former club).
Salaries within a contract may not vary by more than 35 percent year to year, and the lowest year must be at least 50 percent of the highest year.
By John R. Bolton
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