The National Hockey League has apparently avoided canceling another season.
The NHL and National Hockey League Players Association announced early Sunday morning that they have reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The tentative deal will require approval from both the NHL owners and the union. In the meantime, the owners’ three-month lockout of players continues.
If the deal is approved, a 48-to-50 game mini-season will begin within two weeks. The last time the NHL shortened a season due to an owner-imposed lockout was 1994-95, when the league played a 48-game schedule.
As is now typical in sports labor-management negotiations, the players made several major concessions — dropping their percentage of hockey-related revenue from 57% to 50% and agreeing to contract term limits. That the players gave up even more ground in the 2012-13 negotiations is notable considering just how decisively the owners won in 2004-05.
Unlike the 2011 NBA owners’ lockout, which ended in time to preserve the league’s marquee Christmas Day slate and ABC’s entire fifteen-game schedule, the NHL lockout cost the league the January 1 Winter Classic as well as the November 23 ‘Black Friday’ game — two of the highest profile dates on the calendar, and NBC’s first two telecast windows of the season.
The tentative agreement will last for ten years, with a mutual opt-out after the eighth year. In other words, the next NHL lockout will likely wipe out all or part of the 2020-21 season — the last year of NBC’s ten-year television contract.
The next lockout in major pro sports is just four years away. Based on precedent, the NBA will almost surely opt out of the league’s current ten-year CBA with the NBPA in 2017.