National Hockey League fans can breathe easy now that the NHL lockout has ended after 113 long days. The NHL had been locked out since September 15, 2012. The lockout was a labor dispute between the players and the owners. The main reason for this lockout, like most lockouts, was money. Secondary reasons for the lockout were formation of player contracts. NHL fans are far too familiar with lockouts after the 2004-2005 lockout canceled that entire season.
The owners wanted to drop the player’s percent of hockey related revenue by about ten percent. Along with that big, they wanted to cut signing bonuses for players and make the maximum length of a new contract four years. Other contract problems were also in the conversation. Some negotiation sessions took very long.
On January 6, after more than 16 hours of negotiations, the players and owners came to a tentative deal. It was then ratified by two NHL groups on the 9th and 12th. The new deal limited contract extensions to eight years and new contracts to seven years. There is a 50 percent maximum variance in salaries throughout the contract. There will also be no more realignment of teams, such as teams changing divisions or conferences.
A 48 game schedule, instead of the full 82 game schedule, will begin on January 19, 2013. The majority of the players should be able to play at their full potential because many went to other leagues around the world while the league was locked out. Many went to Europe; others went to play for their home country. Some American players, such as Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, went to play in Switzerland.
Though it has been a tough off-season for hockey fans, they can get back to normal now that their sport is back. The sporting world will finally be back to normal with the return of hockey.