Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews echoed the sentiments of many Sunday when discussing the end to the NHL lockout.
"I'm excited to play hockey again, although it's bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game," Toews said via text. "As players we need to keep showing out fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there, but for now it's great to know we'll be back on the ice very soon."
Key details in the bargaining agreementA look at some of the key details from the tentative collective bargaining agreement announced by the NHL and the players' association on Sunday morning:
• 10-year deal, and each side is able to opt out after eight.
• Free-agent contracts are limited to a maximum length of seven years, but clubs can go to eight years to re-sign their own players.
• Players' share of hockey-related income drops from 57 percent to a 50-50 split.
• The salary cap for the upcoming season is $70.2 million, and it will go down to $64.3 million in the 2013-14 season.
• The salary in individual player contracts can't vary more than 35 percent year to year, and the final year can't be more than 50 percent of the highest year.
How soon is still to be determined by the NHL, which reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement with its players about 4 a.m. Sunday following a 16-hour negotiating session.
"I'm really happy this is over," Toews said. "A lot of credit goes to the players who were in the bargaining sessions and worked very hard to get a deal done."
One of those players was Hawks teammate Jamal Mayers.
In all, the lockout lasted 113 days, and at this point no one can forecast what the final cost will be to the league.
The new CBA is for 10 years with an opt-out clause available to either side after eight years.
"Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told bleary-eyed reporters early Sunday. "We have to dot a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon."
The next stage is documentation and ratification of the deal, with the start date and number of games in the 2012-13 season still to be announced depending on how long the final process takes.
"Hopefully we're at a place where all those things will proceed fairly rapidly and with some dispatch," said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. "We'll get back to business as usual just as fast as we can. Hopefully within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us."
The agreement features the following elements:
• The players' share of hockey-related revenue will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split for all 10 years.
• League officials came off their demand for a $60 million cap in Year 2, meeting the NHLPA's request to have it at $64.3 million, which was the upper limit from last year's cap. The salary floor in Year 2 will be $44 million.
• The upper limit on the salary cap in the first year is $60 million, but teams can spend up to $70.2 million (all pro-rated). The cap floor will be $44 million for Year 1.
• Each team will be allowed two amnesty buyouts that can be used to terminate contracts after this season and next season. The buyouts will count against the players' overall share in revenues, but not the team's salary cap.
• The salary variance on contracts from year to year cannot vary more than 35 percent, and the final year cannot vary more than 50 percent of the highest year.
• A player contract term limit for free agents will be seven years, and eight years for a team signing its own player.
• The draft lottery selection process will change with all 14 teams fully eligible for the first overall pick. The weighting system for each team may remain, but four-spot move restriction will be eliminated.
• Supplemental discipline for players in on-ice incidents will go through NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan first, followed by an appeal process that would go through Bettman. For suspensions of six or more games, a neutral third party will decide, if necessary.
• Revenue sharing among teams will spread to $200 million. Additionally, an NHLPA-initiated growth fund of $60 million is included.
• Teams can only walk away from a player in salary arbitration if the award is at least $3.5 million.
Both sides met face-to-face along with federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh for 16 straight hours from Saturday afternoon through the early hours of Sunday morning to get the deal done.
According to various reports, the league has drawn up two schedules of 50 games and 48 games. A 48-game season would start on Jan. 19.