It’s over. Hockey is back!

Updated: January 10, 2013

No more tears, no more late night twitches, no more lost sleep.  Let the masses know, even though most still don’t care – just ask the Dallas Stars.

113 days long.  Nearly four months.  An eternity to the diehards; meaningless to the casual fan.


I’d say it’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, but I was there in 2005 when the puck didn’t drop at all.


Fans were angry; still angry.  Some fans have vowed to never return, and for those who stick to their guns, I applaud you.  I, on the other hand, came running back like before.  I’ve already signed up for “NHL Gamecenter”, my jerseys are on the drying rack and I wasted 20 minutes at work yesterday trying to determine my fantasy team name.


So let’s get to specifics.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but over the next day or so there should be a ratified CBA, and I assure you, NHL agents and owners are already studying it to see where they can squeeze in a $100 million, 20-year DiPietro deal here or there.


This new 10-year CBA’s bill includes:  An adjusted salary cap that lowers to $60 million after this year, but teams can spend up to $70 million in 2013.  Basically this means that teams can continue to sign the players they need for this year without cap restraints.


Big sellers for the owners are the two amnesty buyouts at the end of this season.  Any team that’s stuck with long-term, underachieving veterans can simply buy them out without it counting against their respective caps.  This will help teams get down to $60 million after this year.


The league is happy that salaries won’t be able to fluctuate in value as much as in the past – so deals like Kovalchuk, Parise and Suter – where the team knows its players won’t be playing at the end of their contracts, will no longer be allowed.


No one really cares about contract lengths and such, but perhaps the most interesting change is that now all fourteen non-playoff teams will have a shot at attaining the first overall pick at the draft.  In the past, you could only jump four spots if you won lottery.  Now, if your ball is picked and you didn’t make the dance, the pick is yours.


Again – I’m not sure most people really care about the specifics, but I had to include a little info so people don’t think I’m just rambling.


What’s most important is that hockey is back.  Training camps begin this weekend and the shortened 48-game schedule will probably kick off on January 19th.  This season will be over in the blink of an eye.  Hot starts are a must, and teams that are still figuring out team chemistry will mostly likely be left in the dust.


One common challenge that both the NHL and its players share – they have a lot of sucking up to do to fans that do come back, and need to try even harder to get the ones back who don’t.


In the meantime – I need to get my opening night party planned out.

Rest easy people, they’re back!

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