The NHL season is saved.
The NHL and its Players’ Association have agreed to terms on a new labor contract, ending a 112-day owners’ lockout of players and preventing a second lost season in eight years.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the tentative labor contract in an email around 6 a.m. Sunday.
The deal was struck after a marathon, 16-hour bargaining session that began Saturday afternoon in New York. Top NHL and union officials and federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh worked to find common ground on the remaining issues: players’ pension, a Year 2 salary-cap and contracting rights such as max term and yearly variance on veteran deals.
Penguins union rep Craig Adams flew to New York to rejoin the negotiations late Saturday.
A news conference was tentatively planned for sometime Sunday, where it is expected NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union executive director Donald Fehr will address the new deal.
At least a 48-game season will be played, said Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets who participated in the deal-clinching negotiations.
Details for a schedule and training camp were being finalized and would be made public Sunday, the NHL said.
The new labor contract must be ratified by the 30 club governors and approximately 740 players.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, the NHL scoring champion and MVP last season, was in Bratislava, Slovakia, when he received word of the labor agreement.
“Of course, I’m very excited,” he said of soon rejoining Penguins teammates for a training camp.
Malkin had spent the lockout playing for his hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar was his teammate with Metallurg.
As of Sunday morning Malkin and Gonchar planned to play for Metallurg against Slovan Bratislava then return to Moscow and prepare for a return trip to North America.
“It is great news,” Gonchar said, projecting that he and Malkin will be in North America “in a few days.”