Updated: 12:15 p.m. (ET)
A marathon negotiation session that started Saturday and ended early Sunday morning has resulted in the National Hockey League and its players finally putting a new collective bargaining agreement in the back of the net.
Following 113 days of a labor stoppage -- the NHL had cancelled contests through Jan. 14 and iced All-Star weekend -- the parties, after negotiating for some 16 hours, struck a tentative accord.
"We have reached an agreement of a framework of a new CBA," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman around 6 a.m. on Jan. 6.
"Any process like this is difficult; it can be long," noted NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. "We have the framework of a deal."
On its website, the NHL indicates that the “new CBA, which still must be drafted and formerly approved by both parties, would replace the agreement that expired Sept. 15."
More details about the tentative,10-year deal can be read here.
At this point, specifics about the timing of the ratification -- majority votes are necessary from both the ownership and players’ perspectives and could take place on Jan. 8 -- and whether the regular season will span 48 or 50 games have not been officially disclosed. Reports suggest the longer schedule would commence Jan. 15, while the 48-game set would drop four days later. A full NHL campaign covers 80 regular-season contests.
Bettman had been pointing toward Jan. 11 as a deadline for the sides to reach an agreement to begin a representative season, which is now expected to culminate with the Stanley Cup Final that should conclude in late June.
Provided that the puck is ultimately dropped for the $3.3 billion industry, it will be welcome news for a number of media companies. NBC Sports Group, which was supposed to be in the second of a 10-year, $2 billion television contract, has been hurt by the protracted lockout: the NHL is a high-profile property and Nielsen-driver for national cable service NBC Sports Network, while NBC lost the outdoor Winter Classic on Jan. 1. Moreover, four of its regional sports networks cover NHL teams.
For its part, Fox Sports Networks has a dozen RSNs that typically present NHL action, while networks owned by MSG Media televise games and related programming around four clubs: the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.
It was unclear at press time if there will be any rebate in media rights for the games that were iced during the lockout.
Still, the NHL has averted an impasse that threatened to mirror the 2004-05 season that was lost in its entirety to a labor dispute. Instead, the 2013 season will be more replicative of the truncated 1995 campaign, which began that Jan. 20.