At long last, the day is here: The NHL's new collective bargaining agreement is publicly available.
And, at 517 pages of legalese – 63 more than its predecessor from eight years ago – it's quite a tome.
Not all of the items included within, however, are the kind of dense financial topics that were talking points during the league's ugly four-month lockout.
Also addressed are concerns of the quality of the hair products and towels available in the visiting locker rooms.
Section 34.12 reads "Locker Room Quality/Shower Supplies. Clubs are to provide professional quality shower supplies/products to home and visiting team Players. Clubs are to provide high quality bath towels to Players, to be replaced on as needed basis."
(The rumour is that the Carolina Hurricanes were slacking in this department.)
There's also an odd section of the document dedicated entirely to shovelling snow off the ice surface, with one new decree stipulating that teams must have an "eight shoveler" crew dedicated to the process "in order to optimize ice conditions around the league."
And they shouldn't be stomping around out there in their gumboots.
"The Clubs will utilize their best efforts to deploy ice shovelers on skates," it reads. "The League will issue updated minimum standards (current standard attached) for end zone ice shoveling procedure."
The attachment then provides a diagram for how to best clear the ice, as well as more in-depth shovel specifications than you'll find at your local Canadian Tire:
"The Hockey Operations Department suggests the following tools for this procedure:
- Six to eight 48" poly single-handed shovels, two poly scoop shovels, two plastic buckets to hold snow"
NOTE: The recommended shovels can be ordered and replaced when necessary by going to the website www.thesnowplow.com. The shovels are 48 inches wide, poly single handled plastic shovels."
No wonder all that collective bargaining took so long this winter.
And wouldn't you like to know how many lawyers pondered over these particular sections?
More areas of note in the new CBA:
- New towels won't be the only addition to the locker room. There's a whole host of workout equipment for the visiting team to have access to that's standardized in the CBA, including "two stainless mobile whirlpools (hot/cold)." Oh, and of course, "one Bosu Ball."
- This section was also included in the last CBA, but it's still worth a chuckle: "No Player shall be involved in any endorsement or sponsorship of alcoholic beverages (excluding malt-based beverages such as beer)." Wouldn't want to offend the beer sponsors.
- Perhaps to help those snow shovelers out, the length of intermissions was extended from 17 to 18 minutes. More time to grab a popcorn, I guess. But if you're wondering why games are ending two minutes later than in the past, there's your answer.
- On arbitration awards: Teams can only walk away from awards that are $3.5-million or more. Otherwise, you're stuck with the player at whatever number the arbiter comes up with. That figure also rises with the NHL's average salary.
- On relocation: "Any player forced to move as a result of being claimed in an expansion draft, or as a result of a team relocation, shall be paid $6,000." Potentially some big money for members of the Phoenix Coyotes.
- Speaking of relocation, the NHL included language to state that it maintained sole control over those types of decisions: "Each Club, and, where appropriate, the League… shall in addition to its other inherent and legal rights to manage its business, including the direction and control of its team, have the right at any time and from time to time to determine when, where, how and under what circumstances it wishes to operate, suspend, discontinue, sell or move and to determine the manner and the rules by which its team shall play hockey."
- No more will teams be able to play nine exhibition games, as the Leafs always seemed eager to do: "Each Club shall schedule no less than six (6) and no more than eight (8) Exhibition Games during Training Camp."
- Expanding the playoffs by having four more teams involved in a play-in round is also still in play: "If the League desires to implement a Playoff Qualification Round with respect to future NHL Season(s), it may only do so with the consent of the NHLPA, which shall not be unreasonably withheld."
- Players get a bump in their meal money, which was at $85 at the start of the last CBA: "The per diem meal allowance for each Player accompanying his Club while it is away from its home city for the purpose of playing NHL Games shall be $100 for the 2012-13 League Year."
- This one could be known as the Boogaard rule: "Prescription Drugs. Each Club shall identify one (1) individual who is responsible for monitoring on an ongoing basis, or auditing on a regular basis, prescription drugs that have been given to each Player on the Club, with a particular emphasis on monitoring controlled substances and sleeping pills, if any, that have been prescribed."
- There's also the matter of calculating the cap, which will use a slightly different formula to the old CBA beginning in 2014-15. For next season, however, it's already set: "…in the 2013-14 League Year, the Lower Limit of the Range shall be $44-million, the Midpoint of the Range shall be $54.15-million, and the Upper Limit of the Range shall be $64.3-million."
- Players will now be paid quite a bit more in the playoffs, with the total compensation up from $6.5-million in the last CBA to between $14- and $17-million in this one. Teams that advance deeper in the postseason receive more of that cash, which acts as a modest bonus.
- The two most complicated sections of the CBA are two that were dramatically revised: revenue sharing and the pension plan. Both were seen as small "wins" for the players' side after negotiations, but it's difficult to break down just how much benefit they'll see. What's clear is that revenue sharing will be at least $200-million a season from now on and all teams – even those in very large markets – are now eligible.
- Here's one specific item on revenue sharing: "For each Playoff Game that a Club hosts in its home arena during a League Year, such Club shall contribute the dollar value equivalent of thirty-five (35) per cent of the Playoff Gate Receipts" to the pool of money
- And one more that affects teams like the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils: "Any Recipient Club that is in a Designated Market Area with 3 million or more households shall only be eligible to receive fifty (50) per cent of a 'full share' "