Gary BettmanAfter 113 long days of tense, often ugly negotiations, the NHL and NHLPA have reached agreement on the framework of a new CBA. I’ve been waiting for far too long to write that sentence.

Details about this new CBA have not yet been released, but sources are reporting that it is a 10-year deal with an opt-out option after eight. It also includes “defined benefit pensions for the players as well as a $64.3M salary cap in 2013-14.” But forget the nuts and bolts of it — all we really care about is seeing pucks finally drop.

Beckenbaugh to the rescue

Positivity began surrounding these negotiations yesterday, when federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh started heading back and forth between the headquarters of the NHL and the Players Association with offers and rebuttals. Word from the hockey writers who had set up camp on New York City sidewalks pointed to both sides caving on the some important details of the negotiations, most notably the 2013-14 salary cap and a seven-year contract term limit.

More hope emerged when both sides finally arrived to handle these talks in the same room. Once there, they didn’t leave until union leader Donald Fehr and commissioner Gary Bettman emerged at 6 am this morning to announce that a deal had be made. It was a 16-hour marathon meeting, but it was good enough to solidify a new CBA.

“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,” Bettman said. “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. We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the League side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well. We are not in a position to give you information right now about schedule, when we are starting. It’s early in the morning and we have been at this all day and all night, obviously. But, we will be back to you very shortly, hopefully, later today with more information in that regard.”

This was the third lockout in as many years for the major four sports, and the NHL’s was by far the ugliest. At several points during the six-month lockout, many speculated the season would be canceled completely. Instead of the normal 82 games, this 2013 campaign will reportedly consist of either a 50-game slate that starts on Jan. 15 or a 48-gamer starting on Jan. 19. 

Most hockey fans will find a way to get over the idea of an asterisked Stanley Cup champion once they start seeing NHL hockey being played again. That day of course won’t come soon enough, but knowing it’s coming is reason to be excited.