After 113 days of fruitless posturing under the guise of negotiations, the NHL lockout is over.
Early Sunday morning in New York, the NHL and NHLPA finally agreed on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, saving the hockey world from a second cancelled season in eight years. The NHL had previously cancelled games through January 14, so the 2013 NHL season should begin on or shortly after January 15th, depending on the to-be-determined schedule length.
The key to advancing these negotiations past stagnation was Deputy Director for Mediation Services Scot Beckenbaugh’s work over the last week or so. Whenever NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr and Commissioner Gary Bettman were in the same room during talks, progress always seemed minimal. Whether the two were simply too strong-willed, or their negotiating tactics were incompatible, we will never fully know. Either way, the New Year rolled around and hopes for a 2013 season were dim. But Beckenbaugh’s behind-the-scenes work last week catalyzed the process, which culminated in the agreement yesterday morning.
There will be labor peace for at least the next eight years (the term length is 10 years long, but there is a mutual opt-out clause after eight), so the focus now will shift to rebuilding NHL’s brand and image as hockey gets underway. While fans certainly deserve some acknowledgement for the absurdity of the process, I think most (myself included) are just happy to have the game back.