The National Hockey League and the Players' Association have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement to end the lockout that has been in place since mid- September.
The breakthrough came after a 16-hour marathon negotiating session that lasted all day Saturday and into Sunday morning at the Sofitel Hotel. The NHL announced the agreement in principle shortly after 5 a.m. ET Sunday.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr stood together announcing they had the framework of a new contract.
"Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper," Bettman said in front of several reporters. "We have to dot a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon. We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the league side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well. We are not in a position to give you information right now about schedule, when we are starting. It's early in the morning and we have been at this all day and all night, obviously. But, we will be back to you very shortly, hopefully, later today with more information in that regard."
The league said the new labor package, which will reportedly be for 10 years, must be "drafted and formerly approved by both parties" before it can be finalized.
The NHL and its Players' Association had met separately with a federal mediator throughout the day Friday and into the evening. On Saturday afternoon, the two sides met face-to-face with federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh as they worked toward a new labor deal.
Beckenbaugh, the Deputy Director for Mediation Services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, could be considered the savior for the talks and new CBA.
The organization's director, George H. Cohen, issued a statement on the tentative agreement.
"On behalf of the FMCS, I want to extend our congratulations to both parties for their important accomplishment. The negotiated agreement represents the successful culmination of a long and difficult road in which the parties ultimately were able to reach mutually acceptable solutions to a wide variety of contentious subjects of bargaining. Of course, the agreement will pave the way for the professional players to return to the ice and for the owners to resume their business operations. But the good news extends beyond the parties directly involved; fans throughout North America will have the opportunity to return to a favorite pastime and thousands of working men and women and small businesses will no longer be deprived of their livelihoods. Last but surely not least, I want to recognize the extraordinary contribution that my colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director for Mediation Services, made in providing assistance of the highest caliber to the parties throughout the most critical periods in the negotiations."
The players' share of hockey-related income will reportedly drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split. The salary cap for the upcoming season will also reportedly be $70.2 million and will then drop to $64.3 million for the 2013-14 campaign. All clubs will be required to have a minimum payroll of $44 million.
Bettman has previously said a regular-season schedule of at least 48 games must begin by Jan. 19. The existing 2012-13 NHL schedule has already been canceled through Jan. 14.
The two sides have been without a CBA since the previous one expired just before midnight on Sept. 15.
"Any process we have in a system like this is difficult," Fehr said. "It can be long."
Depending on ratification of the new CBA, training camps could open in the middle of the coming week.
TSN of Canada reports the 10-year deal also has an opt-out clause that kicks in after eight years.