It’s nearly 6 a.m. EST on Sunday morning, but staying up was worth it to post this simple message on Backhand Shelf:

THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE IS BACK.

Again: The NHL is back.

That felt glorious to type, twice. Sunday, Monday, we’ll have all the news and previews for you (in article and podcast form), but the most important thing is that life for hockey fans is back to how they know it. I’m genuinely happy for you. (…Okay, “us.”)

Kudos to those of you who were optimistic the whole time like me, and to those of you who were pessimistic….kudos for being realistic. As I said, more on this tomorrow, but for now, again, let’s settle on this piece of simplicity:

HOLY SHIT THE NHL IS BACK!!!1!

Here it is from informed people. Here. We. Go:

 

 

 

 

 

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UPDATES:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapping it up for the night: Bettman and Fehr sounded wiped out, but content. Thank god we aren’t killing an entire season. Let’s chat more tomorrow.

Comments (41)

  1. You forgot to mention that HOCKEY IS F**KING BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

  2. Heeelllllll yeah we’ve been waiting! Took you guys long enough!!!

  3. I hope every opening puck drop is booed by every single fan in the buildings, in order to show displeasure with both sides over this ridiculous fiasco. This is highly unlikely, but at least slightly more likely than nobody buying tickets and going.

    • Don’t be such a negative little bitch. Hockey’s back, why would whining be your initial response?

      • Because the fans should be showing their displeasure so that this nonsense doesn’t happen every decade. I’m absolutely split between being excited about it being back and turning my back on them.

      • Don’t be such a positive little bitch. The reason why this was the second prolonged lockout in a decade was because the parties involved knew they could do this without marginalizing the fan base. If the fans show some restraint and displeasure it makes it far less palatable to do this again.

    • This is such an awesome idea.

  4. Wahoo! I can’t wait for this. My birthday’s the 18th, so might this be the best birthday present ever?

  5. I can’t wait until when bettman hands out the cup this year holy shit

  6. I’ll take a huge amount of heat for this, but o well.
    I am confused. everyone is mad at Bettman, and maybe rightly so.
    But weren’t the players the ones asking for more money??
    They make millions, entry salary is $850,000 and they want more to play a game?? and then they want t part of the overall revenue too. Come on when is enough – enough.
    Why do you think the league instituted a salary cap for teams.
    They want longer term contracts so that this way if they bomb after they get the big money (Alexi Yashin anyone) they don’t have to worry about taking a pay cut.
    this is way it is nearly impossible to attend a game for a reasonable cost. Just the salary over head is enormous.
    All the players need to be paid on performance. then you would see better games and better players. this is a main reason why hockey will never become main stream. I am so turned off by the players greedy actions, may never watch this sport again.
    OK let the comments begin.

    • Mark, learn what the salary cap is, before thinking the players get paid a salary and a portion of revenue!! Wow it’s like you just got out of a hole, and decided I’m going to get on my high horse because I suck at life!

      What’s next you’re going to tell your buddies the owners finally gave in to the strike!?? Lmao

    • This isn’t a case of the NHLPA asking for more money, it was about losing as little as possible to the NHL that followed the other leagues by locking out the players to get ownership a better deal. This wasn’t the 2003-04 league where 72% of the Hockey Related Revenue was going to the players.

      The players sign contracts, but they are only given the full value of the contract (their % of HRR) as long as the league as a whole meets its targets. So for every paycheck, there is a certain percent that is withheld in escrow. If HRR meets its target, then the players get the money back that they paid into escrow. If not, then the league get that money to make up their share of HRR. So there are, in Bill Daly’s words, no guaranteed contracts in the NHL with the salary cap and the calculation of HRR.

      Long term deals came with the framework of a CBA. The long term contracts come from the very nature of a salary cap system, where the average value of the contract is what the GMs and teams care about, but the players are concerned about the actual year to year monetary value of the contract. If you don’t like the long term contracts, then blame Bettman and the owners in 2005 for popping the champagne once the NHLPA agreed to the cap and not realizing this massive loophole that they left wide open.

      Alexi Yashin was a Mike MIlbury signing back in 2001 – a previous CBA agreement – so it doesn’t apply to the most recent CBA contracts. A signing of say Ilya Bryzgalov would have been a better example. But then again, that meant the Flyers had to shed salary, so out go Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and they were carrying around the cup at the end of the year.

      As has been pointed out previously this lockout, the ownership groups have other ways of recouping losses that are outside of the categorization of HRR. The Florida Panthers *lose* money to HRR, but they are viable with through their Arena Operating Company, a subsidiary of the Sunrise Sports and Entertainment company: the parent company of the Panthers… (source Prohockeytalk: http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2012/11/26/how-the-panthers-make-money-despite-er-losing-money/). So while the hockey team may not make money for SSE, the AOC and its lease and control over the arena space and surrounding area means that the company as a whole is a viable and profitable. Greedy players indeed…

    • “But weren’t the players the ones asking for more money??”

      No. No they weren’t. That’s not a thing that happened.

  7. Leaf fans rejoice! We are odds on favourite to win the stanley cup.
    We always play a great half season.

  8. Big f*^*&g deal……I’m still not watching….they lost me for good….hope hockey rots in hell.

  9. While I admit some gratitude
    Fuck you remains my attitude
    Although I love to see them play
    Still my distaste is in the way

    Corporate sponsors players too
    And most of all the owners knew
    That from their games I’d not abstain
    Although I watch with much distain

    I wish I could with Whisky Jack
    Just stay away and not come back
    Remove my flags from both my trucks
    And nevermore cheer the Canucks

    Because that’s not how things will be
    I find I am ashamed of me

  10. Welp – The fans may/will trickle back. It’s in the nature of their fanaticism and partisanship.

    But, beware the wrath of the corporate sponsors and advertisers…THEY will not be as forgiving. It serves them not to co-brand with a league that has fully embraced a chickenshit image.

    • Yeah, the fans aren’t all that important in the long run, but companies like Bridgestone lost some of their biggest marketing events of the year. Pretty much every company associated with the Winter Classic is likely to be Bettman’s first phone call once the deal is ratified, because he’s going to have to do a LOT of work to keep them happy.

      • McDonalds was about to sign a whopper (if you’ll excuse the oxymoron) of a national deal with the NHL, for the Winter Classic (with options for the All-Star break) – To wilfully turn one’s back on such a lucrative sponsorship deal is surely tantamount to “brand-suicide”.

        Never pays to crap where you eat. The NHL’s never really recovered from their misguided dealings with ESPN – Revealing a certain reputation for shortsightedness and small-thinking.

        The trend continues.

        • …err, perhaps “whopper” was a mixed metaphor, rather than an oxymoron. Whichever.

          • The ESPN thing is overblown, since even ESPN’s other partners have been complaining about their football-centric focus in recent months. Tim Tebow got more coverage on ESPN in October than the World Series, for instance. Given the tendency of sports fans to get their coverage from non-traditional sources, as well as the fact that the NHL got a pretty healthy premium via NBC, there’s no real downside to the deal.

            (Also, the key component of the deal was that they’d already committed to doing business with NBC on a network level – ABC was never an option.)

            However, there’s nothing that says that the NHL can’t get equivalent sponsorship next year as they did this year re: the Winter Classic. The only major downside that they have is that this year was particularly barren when it comes to NCAA competition. But there’s going to be 100000 tickets sold for the game no matter what happens next year, and that alone should be enough to convince sponsors that it’s worth coming back for,

            Bettman’s team has actually done a great job with sponsorships over the last decade, so I doubt they’re suddenly going to lose their touch in that area.

  11. the more whiners who boycott hockey, the more tickets for me to buy. hooray for an agreement!

  12. NHL fans are equivalent to battered house wives. You guys take so much shit year after year, and still come back for more with open arms no matter what they did to you.

  13. I just want them to break the news that Center Ice is free this year.

    Alan G, that is the most clear and succinct explanation of this whole fiasco I’ve read since this crap started.

  14. …An idle thought: Now that the lockout is (tentatively) over, will the gag-order imposed upon ownership be lifted? Or, will it be a case of an ongoing “sealed record”, ad infinitum?

    It would be interesting to get the skinny (the Airing of Grievances, the dirty laundry) on the internal dynamic of the ownership position, and how it affected any shift in attitude over the course of this latest “conflict”.

    Might prove to be some juicy and compelling reading.

    • Aside from Mark Cuban, how much do you hear about NBA or NFL lockout deliberations?

      So, no, odds are good you’ll never hear anything official.

  15. My beer started fermenting and now we have a CBA. It’s like christmas!!

  16. NFL Countdown was cancelled this morning on TSN. It looks like they all climaxed all over themselves with the news. Glad The Score promotes other sports because hockey.

    Seriously, best birthday present ever? Buy a rubber doll u can have more fun.

    • No, it was just moved to TSN2 (I think the aggrieved party here would be… darts fans? Fans who want to watch replay #125511 of the Olympic Women’s Bronze Medal soccer game?). Although anything that Chris Berman is involved with could be moved to TSN Ocho and it would still be too prominent on the dial.

  17. Time for 90% of the people who said “I’m done with hockey” to be “WOOOOO! Hockey is back”

    • Ayup. Especially as there’s a two-week hype session coming from all hockey related media. Half the people will probably forget that the lockout even happened.

      Wonderful thing about a short-attention-span culture, that.

      • Don’t know about that – Hockey fans tend to be all the more virulent (I know I am) and personally invested. They revel in their (almost absurd) exclusivity and niche-standing.

        I, for one, have been proud to introduce many a stranger (from all four corners of the globe) to the Art of Hockey – Having bought tickets and dragged unwilling friends out to witness the spectacle, at my own expense.

        My greatest pleasure (as an ex-Canadian, living in Tampa) remains as having been the look of joy on the face of a friend of mine (an Irish national, living in Tampa on a work visa) having witnessed his first Lightning game, some years ago. He was beside himself with excitement. He was stunned by the sport, as a whole.

        It made me proud to have been a lifelong Hockey fan. It served as a source of affirmation.

        Such passionate subtleties and personal (unspoken) alliances are sure to be diminished (or, severely corroded) as a result of this (most recent) perceived betrayal.

        • Fans came back after a CANCELLED SEASON last time. This is basically what happened in 1995, and you know what happened that year? The league barely skipped a beat. (Well, and we got stuck with the Devils as champs).

          Sports fans in general have short memories. The NBA lost a good chunk last year and barely even blinked. Teams that don’t win will fail to attract fans and blame the lockout, but you know what? That’s not the lockout’s fault, that’s the fans’ fault.

          I do think they need to add the play-ins just to juice the numbers a bit, however. We survived with 16 out of 21 teams making the playoffs in the 80s, we’ll be fine with 20 out of 30.

        • You, sir, are exactly the kind of fan that hockey needs. We as fans need to drag non-fans to hockey games (kicking and screaming, if necessary). I have never taken someone to a game who did not get into it once they were there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken someone and they’ve said “Wow, I had no idea it was so fast!”. Lots of them go on to become fans. The sport needs more fans – it can’t survive forever as a niche sport catering only to the very loyal, exclusive fan. Do I get annoyed by new fans asking what icing or offsides are (as if they were the most perplexing rules ever invented)? Yeah, I do…but I also enjoy seeing those people’s knowledge grow as they become “true” fans.

  18. Wow you guys are weak what happened to boycott the same # of games cancelled, showing your displeasure etc? Guess we’ll be in another lockout in 8 yrs no consequences for this horseshit created by the league and PA

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