Washington Capitals fans, as well as fans across North America, awoke Sunday morning to the news that the National Hockey League will indeed have a 2012-13 season.
Around 4:45 a.m., the two sides – with the help of a federal mediator – solved the dispute with a tentative deal that will bring the game back to rinks all across North America. The session, which lasted 16 hours, produced a 10-year-deal which will allow the owners to unlock the doors and bring about a truncated season.
While a lot depends on when the deal is actually put on paper and ratified by the NHL’s Board of Governors and the players, training camp could open up as early as Wednesday.
It’s expected teams will play a 48 to 50 game season, with a heavy dose of divisional play. The exact start of the season is still to be determined, and while a new schedule will use some of the same dates as the old 82-game version, the opponents will change.
The Capitals could play seven games against Southeast Divisional foes, and two against the 10 teams from the Atlantic and Northeast Division teams in a 48-game schedule. If two more are added, it’s expected they could be “rivalry” games, which could mean an extra matchup against Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or New York.
But, after an ugly labor dispute that cancelled at least 32 games and took nearly four months to solve, hockey fans across Washington and the world got what they wanted: the game to return within two weeks.