The Wait Is Over, Islanders Hockey Is Back

Many NHL fans were clamoring for both Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman to be locked in a room without the option of leaving until a new CBA deal was agreed upon. That is basically what took place last night.

Several months later, a 16-hour negotiating process that ended around 5 AM Sunday morning resulted in a new CBA that is in the process of being ironed out on paper. The deal is a 10-year agreement with an opt-out clause that is available at eight years (Photo credit: shot7photos/Flickr). 
According to TSN, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement includes the following details:
"- The players' share of hockey-related revenue will drop from 57 percent to a 50-50 split for all 10 years.  
- The league coming 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.
- The 10-year deal also has an opt-out clause that kicks in after eight years.
- 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 per cent and the final year cannot vary more than 50 per cent 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.
- The NHL had hoped to change opening of free agency to July 10, but the players stood firm and it remains July 1 in the new agreement. But with a later ending to the season, free agency for this summer will start at a later date."
The future days of 15-year contracts will no longer exist, which brings the Islanders to one of their biggest issues over the past few seasons.
Will Rick DiPietro remain a New York Islanders goaltender after 2013?
The opportunity for this franchise to remove him and his albatross contract from the roster is a golden one. Each season could then be about building from the net out with young net-minders Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson, as opposed to rehabilitating DiPietro back to good health as well as good form. 
But on the other hand, everyone is aware of the close relationship that DP has with team owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow. This will absolutely be a topic that will be discussed and monitored closely over the next few months, and possibly year. 
To be fair, fans can probably expect to see DiPietro in uniform and sharing the crease with Evgeni Nabokov. This will give him the chance to perform as an NHL goaltender after a long road to recovery; possibly for the last time in his career.
The team also has to decide which players from the Junior leagues, as well as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, will make the jump to the NHL. Being that the Isles do not have a deep group of veterans going into the year, it is likely that Nino Niederreiter, Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas and David Ullstrom might see plenty of time with the big club. Defenseman Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness may get to play as well.
The major questions will be if Garth Snow should give Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart time in the NHL before deciding if they should finish the year with their respective junior clubs or with the New York Islanders.
A lot of decisions have to be made very quickly. However, it is unlikely that the Islanders, or any NHL team for that matter, will make any major roster changes until the CBA is officially printed out on paper with rules outlining the availability of junior players this season. 
The league is working out when the puck will officially drop on the 2013 season, but as it stands now, opening night is tentatively scheduled for January 15th against the New York Rangers at Nassau Coliseum.
Come on, is there any better way to start the season than that?
For the first time in months, this blogger can say that he is relieved, ecstatic, overjoyed and thrilled to be discussing NHL hockey with everyone again. It has been long overdue, and although the season will be a shortened one, it is damn good to know that hockey is back. 
In addition, TCL Isles is looking to add some talented hockey bloggers to our staff. Please inquire within if you are interested in writing for our web-site.