Hello dear visitors! It is a big pleasure to come to you with such a positive update. I’m pretty sure you’re all well informed already, but just in case – the NHL lockout is over. The ratification of the deal is still needed, the schedule needs to be finalized but none of this should stand in the way between us and the NHL hockey. The shortened season (apparently of 48 games) should start on Jan 19. More specific details will definitely come in the following days. Today, I’m bringing you Simon’s reaction and comments to the agreement.
A few hours after the announcement of the end of the lockout, Simon Gagné had already scheduled a game, on Sunday. And he was not going to miss this one, for it was one of the last opportunities to play with his son Matthew on their outdoor rink in Lac-Beauport. Starting next week, the Los Angeles Kings’ forward will be helping his teammates defend their Stanley Cup title.
But the 32 years old left winger knows the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) still has a lot to do to tie the loose ends of the contract. He isn’t planning on leaving Québec until the union of representative tells him so. He still is relieved: “It took a lot of time, but I knew we’d get there. I’m not going to lie: I thought it would be over before Christmas, I didn’t think it’d go that far. But it’s done now. The important thing is that there will be a least half a season”.
Eight years of peace.
After this long process, Gagné reckons that even though the players granted a lot to the owners, they kept their ground. The most important is that they agreed on a long term deal, and that will settle hockey’s fate for the next 8 years, at least.
“Bettman is tough, so we figured that if we agreed on a 5 year deal, there would be another lock-out after that. At the same time, we didn’t want to sign a long-term deal because we weren’t sure the new contract would be that good to us. Here, we can decide whether or not we want to sign again for two more years after these 8 years”, Gagné explained on Sunday.
The agreement comes with a system of revenue sharing established at 50-50, associated with a compensatory package of $ 300 million. The share of incomes goes from $150 millions to 260$. The retirement fund can now be compared to the one going on in MLB.
In the end, the attention focused on that last part. Although, unlike the salary cap, it wasn’t a major issue.
“Pension plans were a huge discussion issue. Both parties knew what they wanted. I don’t think it was the most important matter, but it was the last to settle for an agreement to be proposed” claims Gagné. Scot L. Beckenbaugh, the mediator, played a key role in this matter. “I talked to some of the players who were there on Saturday. Around midnight, people wanted to stop negotiating and go to bed. He was the one who kept them going” Gagné revealed.
The Kings can hope
Simon Gagné still got a positive thing out the lockout: he had more time to get better. He will start this season in a good shape, after being injured many times during these last years. That’s got to be good for the Kings!
“Even though I lost half a season that I will never get back, the lockout allowed me to spend some time with my family and get back in a great shape, even though I already felt great in July. My body had time to rest, and that’s harder and harder as you grow old,” said the skilled player who had a mass removed from his neck right after he’d won the Stanley Cup last June.
Teamed up with stars players such as Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown, Simon Gagné’s shape will allow the Kings to hope for another great season.
“We still have the same core players. There hasn’t been any big trade or free agent… It’s the same team that won the Cup” he notes.
Like the Quebecer, other Los Angeles Kings had the time to rest after a summer of celebration. All champions don’t have this kind of luxury.
“It’s not only a physical rest, it’s also a mental rest. Even though I didn’t win the Cup with the Flyers in 2010, I thought hockey came back quickly. I would have liked another month and a half of rest after that! The lockout gave us some extra time, it’s good for the last Champions. Anyway, it can’t be a bad thing.”
Gagné now hopes that the many fans who followed the Kings will still show them suport.
“It may be harder for a city like Los Angeles to get over a lockout if we don’t go far in the playoffs. But our comeback to the city might get some fuel because of our Cup win, when we raise the banner…”