Lockout officially ends, schedule announced for NHL
NEW YORK - Agence France-Presse
Vancouver Canucks Ryan Kesler practices with a trainer prior to the rest of the team at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia January 11, 2013. REUTERS photoThe National Hockey League is back in business after owners and players signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday to end the lockout that wiped out more than half the season.
The NHL wasted no time in releasing a schedule for the shortened season, in which each team will play 48 games.
Twenty-six of the league's 30 teams will play when the action begins on January 19. The regular season will conclude on April 27 with the Stanley Cup playoffs starting three days later.
Training camps were due to open Sunday.
The NHL Players Association had announced earlier Saturday that its members had voted to ratify a new contract, days after NHL owners had unanimously approved the tentative deal.
But the official end of the lockout, which started in September and cost more than half of the season originally slated to begin in October, wasn't announced until representatives of both sides had signed the written memorandum of understanding laying out the key issues in the new deal.
The new accord will last for 10 years, with an opt-out clause after eight.
The players' share of hockey-related income will fall from 57 percent to a 50 percent with the owners also getting 50 percent.
The salary cap for the upcoming season will also reportedly be $70.2 million with a minimum payroll of $44 million. The salary cap will drop to $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season.
The contract dispute has cost the NHL more than half of a season that was originally slated to begin in October.
But with the agreement they avoid losing an entire season to labor woes for the second time.
A similar bitter dispute over finances wiped out all of the 2004-05 campaign.
Now a league needing to win back fans disenchanted by the lockout, the NHL plans to open with a bang next weekend.
The defending champion Los Angeles Kings, who beat the New Jersey Devils in a six-game Stanley Cup Finals last June, will raise their banner before an afternoon game against Chicago.
Another playoff rematch highlighting the first day of play will be the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Philadelphia Flyers.