After a week of bad news, including some prominent deaths and another terror attack on London, here’s some lighter fare. Hockey is back. Team owners and the NHL players union have ratified a collective bargaining agreement after having to cancel the 2004–05 season. The new six-year deal includes a salary cap, which the players had balked at for a long time, leading to the lockout. Under the new deal, no team payroll will exceed $39 million or go under $21.5 million next season, including salaries, signing bonuses and performance bonuses. On the other hand, players are guaranteed to receive 54 percent of league-wide revenues (estimated at $1.8 billion annually). Most critics say the deal is a win for the owners, and wonder why the two sides couldn’t have reached this agreement earlier and saved last season.
The league is also going to implement some rule changes to increase scoring and prevent soccer-like, 1–0 snooze fests. I’m most excited about shootouts deciding overtime ties and tag-up offsides, which should eliminate a lot of stoppages of play.
No, actually I’m most excited about the Pittsburgh Penguins winning today’s draft lottery and securing the rights to draft Canadian phenom Sidney Crosby.