Archive for January, 2013

The NHL Lockout is nearing an official end as the league and player’s association agreed to a tentative deal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, pending approval that could come as soon as Tuesday.  Here are the top ten things to know and to follow in the post-lockout National Hockey League.

10) The Arizona Coyotes

Greg Jamison is reportedly on the verge of finally completing his purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes.  As part of the provisions of their new twenty-year lease agreement, Jamison will have to rename the team the “Arizona Coyotes” as soon as it is economically and practically feasible.

9) The Off-season Moves are Far From Over

The NHL off-season was proving to be an exciting one as star players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were long courted before signing together with the Minnesota Wild.  As the lockout began, the off-season was interrupted, with all moves being delayed and leaving a lot of teams still searching to fill the holes on their roster.

8) Salary Cap

Team will be allowed to spend up to $70.2 Million for the 2012-13 (or technically, the 2013) season, but the salary cap will drop to $64.3 Million for the 2013-14 season, leaving several teams in cap trouble (though #6 on this list will show a way out of this).  Teams currently above that $63.4 Million threshold include the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning.  Meanwhile, league minimum wage is set to increase throughout the CBA.

7) Draft Lottery

One of the more major changes in the CBA is that the team with the worst record will no longer be given the first pick int he draft automatically.  Instead, a draft lottery similar to that of the NBA will be held, with all fourteen teams that do not make the post-season having a chance at the pick.  It is unknown if this would be adjusted in case of expansion of the league or playoffs.

6) Amnesty Buyouts

Each team will have a way out of some of their cap troubles, with the opportunity to buyout two players on bad contracts.  The buyouts may only be used during this off-season and next, not later during the CBA.

5) Increased Revenue Sharing

Revenue sharing has increased to $200 Million, and if structured properly, will help solve the problem of the league’s many franchises that are currently in economic flux.

4) Radical Realignment

Radical realignment was first proposed for the 2012-13 season, and was approved by the league Board of Governors before the Players Association blocked it.  It still may happen in the future under the new CBA, but how quickly it will be implemented is up in the air.  The league currently has a major alignment problem, as the Winnipeg Jets are still playing in the Southeast Division since their 2011-12 relocation from Atlanta.  The realignment, which would feature four conferences, would solve the travel issues and make it much more simple to move teams in the future pending relocation of expansion.  The proposed conferences are as follows:

Conference A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver

Conference B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg

Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto

Conference D: Carolina, New Jersey, New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

Conferences C and D each had only seven teams as opposed to the eight of conference A and B, paving the way for expansion rumors.

3) Expanded Playoffs

Rumors have recently started that the league is looking to expand the playoffs to twenty teams, which would likely coincide with the realignment.  The top three teams in each of the four conferences – twelve total – would be automatically in the second round, while a brief round would take place between the fourth and fifth seeds of each conference to determine which would have the right to face the first seed in the second round.

2) Expansion

The realignment, the playoff expansion, it all point to one thing: adding two expansion teams to the league.  Reports surfaced during the lockout that Bettman would announce expansion teams for Quebec and Toronto at some point after the end of the lockout.  Quebec formerly hosted the Nordiques before their relocation to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche.  Toronto currently is occupied by the Maple Leafs, far and away the most valuable franchise in the league, but could easily support a second.  While expansion seems probable, it is more than likely that these cities won’t immediately be announced as the recipients of the teams, given that ownership groups must be found first.

1) Hockey For At Least Eight Years

The most important thing to come out of the second lockout since the 2004-2005 non-season is that there will be uninterrupted hockey for at least eight years.  Though the CBA is ten years long, each side has the right to opt out after the eighth season of the deal.