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NHL set to start as both sides agree on new employment contract

Everyone in Ohio has something to cheer about now that the post-Rick Nash era Columbus Blue Jackets are back on the ice. The NHL players' union finally submitted to the terms of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement that effectively ends the 117-day lockout, the longest in league history, and kick starts the shortened 2012-2013 season. The league and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on January 13 that reflects the terms of the new employment contract's pension, benefits and compensation schemes.

The contract dispute was focused on how players and owners should split revenues after reports of 50% growth last season. The new agreement also gives both sides the right to opt out of the 10-year contract after eight years.

The new agreement also calls for the equal sharing of all hockey-related revenues between owners and players and stipulates that a player's contract length is limited to a maximum of seven years. A maximum of eight years is allowed for re-signing a team's own unrestricted free agents. There are also provisions for the regulation of compensation structure such as year-to-year salary variability and minimum values. Another feature is a newly defined benefit pension plan for the players and enhanced revenue sharing among the clubs.

The lockout cut short the schedule to about half including the cancellation of key primetime games such as the 2012-2013 Winter Classic that was set on New Year's Day. It will also cancel the supposed Columbus-hosted All-Star Night to give way for ranked games.

A total of 625 games were forcibly cancelled. The league lost $1 billion in profits this year while players lost 7 percent of total league earnings with the new pact. In the end, for now at least, everyone is happily waiting for the refs to drop the puck on January 19.

The need to renegotiate the terms and stipulations of employment agreements is a common occurrence in Ohio and across the country. Legal professionals may be able to help workers negotiate the terms of a contract to obtain fair compensation and benefits.

Source: Bloomberg News Online "NHL Players Approve Agreement as Hockey Season Set to Start," Michael Buteau and Bob Bensch, Jan. 13, 2013

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