By: Kevin Allen, USA TODAY Sports
The NHL and NHL Players Association signed off on a memorandum of understanding Saturday night that allows training camps to open Sunday and a 48-game season to begin next Saturday.
When voting closed Saturday at 8 a.m. ET, 98.2% of players had voted in favor of the new deal.
But the signing of the MOU was delayed all day as two sides worked to finalize the details and the language of the agreement. The signing was announced at 10:20 p.m ET.
Trades, signings and player moves were allowed two hours after the deal was signed.
This would be the shortest NHL season since 1994-95, when 48 games were also played. That, too, was necessitated by a lockout.
"I have enough tenure to have also been there in 1994-95," said Nashville Predators general manager David Poile. "As I remember that season, it was energized, stressful, and to use a phrase that will be overused, every game was like a playoff game. I know we will all be going to our teams and saying we have to get out of the gate strong or we won't make the playoffs."
This season's schedule would be conference-only, meaning an Eastern Conference team won't face a Western Conference team until the Final.
Voting ran from 8 p.m. ET Thursday to 8 a.m. Saturday, but the continued work on the memorandum delayed the union's announcement of the ratification. A vote total wasn't given.
Owners unanimously approved the CBA on Wednesday, four days after an agreement was reached after an all-night bargaining session in New York. The agreement was reached just before 5 a.m. Sunday, on Day 113 of the lockout.
Under terms of that 10-year agreement, owners and players will have a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue, down from 57% for the players last season.
In addition, players can no longer receive a contract of longer than seven years unless they are re-signing with their own team. Then, they are allowed an eighth year. No multiyear contract can have more than a 35% year-to-year variance on salary amounts and the lowest salary in the deal can be no lower than 50% of the highest. That was agreed to because some teams had been tacking low-salary years on the end of contracts to decrease their cap hit.
Teams also can't bury players in the minor leagues for salary-cap reasons, as the New York Rangers have done with Wade Redden and his $5.6 million cap hit. Under the new rules, a player earning more than $900,000 who is sent to the minors still will have his cap hit count against the salary cap.
This season's salary cap will stay at $70.2 million (pro-rated), meaning teams should have no difficulty getting under the cap, provided they had no problems before the lockout. But next season, the cap will drop to $64.3 million, and that could cause difficulty. Each team will be allowed two compliance buyouts of contracts that won't count against the salary cap but will count against the players' 50% share.
Players lost 40% of their wages this season because of the lockout, but they did gain a new pension program. Plus, to get players to accept a 50-50 split, owners agreed to give players $300 million in "make whole" money or deferred payments to ease the escrow hit on those who had previously signed contracts.