Sunday Morning – Game On!
The National Hockey League and the players union signed the elusive Memorandum of Understanding Saturday night around 10:30 pm and all systems are now "Go" in league operations. Everybody knew that this was coming, so almost all of the players are already back in their teams' practice facilities where the training camps will begin at 9:30 am today.
Immediately after the MOU was initialed, the league released the schedule for the abbreviated 48-game season. The first games will be played on Saturday, January 19 with 26 of the 30 teams matching up on the opening day. Out of necessity, they will be playing an unbalanced schedule with some divisional opponents playing each other four times and others three times. After a quick look at the schedule, I do not see any interconference play at all, which does not surprise me. So those East and West twains will not meet this season.
Washington Post / Newton
The NHL released a statement last night that reads in part:
The wide-ranging Agreement includes an economic system under which Hockey Related Revenues (HRR) will be shared 50%-50% between Owners and the Players. The Agreement includes terms that limit the length of individual Player contracts to seven years (eight when a team is re-signing its own Player) and regulates the compensation structure, year-to-year variability and defining minimum value.
The new Agreement, the longest in League history, also features a new defined benefit pension plan for the Players; enhanced revenue sharing among the Clubs; creation of a Revenue Sharing Oversight Committee, on which the Union will participate; creation of an Industry Growth Fund, designed to make long-term improvements in the revenue-generating potential of low-grossing Clubs; the ability of Clubs to retain a certain amount of salary in Player trades; a Player playoff prize pool that doubles in size to $13 million in Year 1, rising to $17 million for 2020/21 and 2021/22, and the creation of an Owner-Player Relations Committee – one of several joint initiatives not present in the previous Agreement. The Owner-Player Relations Committee will meet at least twice a year to discuss matters of mutual interest and to consult regularly on how best to continue to grow the game for the mutual benefit of the parties and the fans.
You can read the full statement HERE. Two items that were deliberately left out of the negotiations that will be taken up separately this Spring are the divisional realignments and the question of participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics. So for this short season, at least, the Winnipeg Jets (recently relocated from Atlanta) will continue to rack up frequent flyer miles while they play in the Southeast Division again.
The league (and thus the owners) are very much against having their players participating in the Olympics. For one thing, a relatively few players actually go to the Games and for that the league has to shut down for a couple of weeks which results in a compressed schedule for the entire season. And when they come back, to teams' top players have not rested like the rest of the league has and they will be going into the playoffs at an increased level of exhaustion. To say nothing of the injury potential. But the players themselves and the fans pretty much demand the Olympics inclusion, so there will be some sort of compromise worked out on that. Personally, I would prefer to see the Olympics Committee move the hockey program to the Summer Games where there would be a lot less conflict.
You can view the season schedule for your favorite team HERE.
Moving on to other news ……. There is no other news, so let's get the equipment checked out while I fire up the Bunn-O-Matic one more time before the Sunday breakfast hits the table. See you back in the day room later where we can catch the wrapup of the Consumer Electronics Show that closed yesterday.
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