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Just in time to avert cancellation of a full season and just before the union's deadline for filing a disclaimer of interest to clear the way for an anti-trust lawsuit by players, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association have reached a tentative deal to end the lockout that has led to the cancellation of half the season. From the beginning, the question was how much the players would concede. That's generally a feature of lockouts—management locks out workers to weaken them—and in this case we're talking about a giant power and money grab, so it's all the more so. In that context, the tentative deal could be worse:

“Hockey-related revenue”: The league and players will split so-called “hockey-related revenue” evenly, a rollback from the previous bargaining agreement, which split revenue 57-43 in favor of players (it is important to note that hockey-related revenue is not comprised of all revenue NHL teams make, so this isn’t actually an even split). Players had agreed to a 50-50 split early in negotiations, even though that concession will likely lead to salary reductions. The union did, however, succeed in getting $300 million for “make whole” payments, which should partially mitigate at least some of the early salary reductions.

Salary cap: The league’s salary cap, the amount each team can spend in a year on player salaries, will rise to $70.2 million this year before falling back to $64.3 million next season, matching its previous level. Players wanted to move the salary cap higher, owners wanted it lower. The lower cap will likely lead to higher player payments into escrow accounts, which are used to ensure that the league’s hockey-related revenue split works over the course of the season. Players have previously expressed fears that higher payments into escrow accounts could lead to de facto salary reductions if league revenue falls short of projections.

Additionally, contract structure provisions in the tentative deal fall between the owners' demands and where they had been until the lockout; again, it's a question of the players successfully limiting concession demands rather than doing anything that would normally look like winning.

Details are still being worked out for a final deal, after which both owners and players will have to vote on it. Hockey games could resume as soon as Jan. 15.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:54 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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