Blackhawks

Key bullet points of NHL's new six-year CBA: Olympics, salary cap and contracts

Key bullet points of NHL's new six-year CBA: Olympics, salary cap and contracts

When the NHL moved into Phase 2 of voluntary small-group activities and announced the target date for Phase 3 of formal training camps, it gave fans excitement that hockey could soon be on the horizon. At the very least, progress was being made. 

But, in a video conference call on June 11, Blackhawks star winger Patrick Kane pumped the brakes on things and revealed there were many key hurdles for the league and players to overcome before resuming play.

"Nothing has been agreed to yet," Kane said. "There's a long way to go before we reach a certain agreement where we would want to come back and play and feel safe enough and feel like it's the right deal for us to come back."

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The outspoken comments came as a surprise because there weren't many rumblings about the significant challenges going on behind the scenes until that day. 

What Kane was referring to was the protocols and safety measures for Phases 3 and 4, what life would be like in the two hub cities, the salary cap transition rules and, oh yeah, a revamped Collective Bargaining Agreement. That's right, for the past month, the NHL and NHL Players' Association were negotiating a new CBA, which had been the root of three lockouts in the past three decades.

But now there will be labor peace for at least the next six years after the two sides agreed to a new deal that will run through the 2025-26 season with an escrow provision that could extend the deal by one year. The previous deal was set to expire at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Here are the key bullet points from the CBA extension:

  •  The upper limit of the salary cap will be frozen at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and remain there until hockey-related revenue hits $3.3 billion. The ceiling won't increase by more than $1 million until HRR reaches $4.8 million, unless the NHL and NHLPA mutually decide to modify it. Once HRR surpasses $4.8 billion, the cap will increase by more than $1 million per year.
     
  • Twenty percent escrow limit for players in 2020-21; between 14-18 percent (TBD) in 2021-22; a maximum of 10 percent in 2022-23; and a maximum of 6 percent in 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26.
     
  • The players' final paycheck from the 2019-20 season will go to repaying their debt to owners. That number is approximately $140 million.
     
  • NHL players will be allowed to participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics and 2026 Milan Olympics, pending negotiations with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.
     
  • All no-trade and no-movement clauses will travel with the player in a trade, even if a player is moved before the clause kicks in.
     
  • The minimum salaries will remain at $700,000 for 2020-21, then increase to $750,000 for 2021-22 and 2022-23 and will jump to $775,000 for 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26.
     
  • For players on entry-level contracts, the maximum dollar amount of "A" level bonuses will increase from $850,000 to $1 million per year. In addition, the maximum base salaries are increasing from $925,000 to $950,000 in 2022-23 and 2023-24, $975,000 in 2024-25 and 2025-26, and $1 million in 2026-27.
     
  • Unlike in 2013, compliance buyouts to provide cap relief are not part of the agreement.
     
  • There will no longer be a six-day negotiating window for pending unrestricted free agents leading up to the free agency signing period.
     

Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner remains unbeaten with Vegas Golden Knights

On Thursday in Game 2, the Blackhawks tested Robin Lehner more than they did in Game 1 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoff series, when he only had to save 19 of 20 shots.

The Hawks were able to put 25 pucks on the Golden Knights' net, with three getting past Lehner to take the game to overtime where Vegas would triumph to take a 2-0 series lead.

"It was a little bit of a weird game," Lehner said following his Game 2 win. "There was not that much to do and I thought they had some good chances. I thought that Chicago played really well. Everyone keeps saying they're (the) underdog, but you look at their team: the experience, the skill... it's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out there. It's a lot of skill and they're world class players, so when they get opportunities it's hard. I got to look at the tape, I think I can be a little bit better, but a win's a win."

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is ureal

With the victory, Lehner remains unbeaten in the 2020 postseason (4-0) and unbeaten as a Golden Knight. 

The 29-year-old netminder went 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage with the Knights during the regular season ahead of the NHL Pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Related: Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Lehner was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Pittsburgh Penguins, may have lost the starter job to Lehner, at least for now. Fleury was only in net for one Golden Knights' round-robin game, with Lehner starting the rest of the postseason contests so far.

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Patrick Kane passes Bobby Hull for third place in Blackhawks' all-time playoff points

Patrick Kane passes Bobby Hull for third place in Blackhawks' all-time playoff points

On Thursday, Patrick Kane made even more history to cement himself among top all-time legendary Blackhawks in the Hawks' 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2 of the first round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

In the second period of Game 2, Kane recorded three points off three assists to pass Bobby Hull (129) for third in most playoff points in Hawks history with 130. Denis Savard is in second with 145 and Stan Mikita is No. 1 with 150.

Related: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane found his postseason game, but is it too late?

"Well, I've been fortunate to play on some amazing teams. And I guess when you have some deep runs in the playoffs, you're going to have the chance to put up numbers and points when you're an offensive guy," a humble Kane said following Thursday's loss. "So I appreciate those teams I've been on, trying to do the same thing here with this team.

"I think we got a good group. I think we proved it all year when we played in tough situations, faced some adversity that we were able to come back, we're able to work our way out of it. This isn't a team that's going to give up and I think we're in a situation here where we're coming into a day off then a back-to-back situation and we feel we got a young team with some fresh legs, so hopefully that can be used to our advantage."

The Hawks take on the Knights in Game 3 Saturday at 7 p.m. and Game 4 Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT.

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