The waiting is over.
At about 4:45 am EST, the National Hockey League and its Players' Association reached a tentative new collective bargaining agreement.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "but it's good to be at this point." He and union head Don Fehr spoke side-by-side to announce the tentative deal that still needs some fine tuning and ratification from both sides.
"We got through it," Doan said. "The emotion of it, you kind of ride the roller coaster of it up and down, but you kind of sense things were going in the right direction and you want to make sure they kept going in the right direction."
The deal came after a marathon session of about 16 hours with federal mediator scot beckenbaugh, who will no doubt be viewed by hockey fans as a folk hero.
The deal is for 10 years with a mutual opt-out after year eight. With only a half seasonbeing played this season, the deal is essentially another seven years because both will most likely opt out when they have the opportunity to do so.
Some other sticking points are a seven-year cap on contracts for unrestrict free agents, while teams can re-sign its own players for eight years. The salary cap in year two of the deal, which the League wanted to scale back to $60 million, will be $64.3 million. The players wanted it around $65 million.
Contract salary variance is capped at 35 percent from year to year, with the provision that the last year can't vary more than 50 percent from the highest-salaried year, a source told ESPN.com.
Revenue sharing will spread $200 million, with a $60 million NHLPA-initiated growth fund included.
Teams will have two compliance buyouts starting this summer.
The start of free agency will remain July 1, while participation in the Olympics was not part of the agreement. Both sides will discuss whether or not players will be eligible as the 2014 games get closer.
"You knew you were in that position, and I think as a union we got the best deal we could possibly get, and you're happy," Shan Doan told ESPN. "You're just excited to play hockey again and do what you really enjoy and have a passion for."
The two sides are now determining whether to have a 48 or 50-game schedule. It is believed a 50-game campaign would begin Jan. 15, while a 48-game schedule would start Jan. 19.
Now we can finally begin to start talking about hockey as a sport and not a negotiation process.
I'm not going to over-analyze everything, but I'm especially glad the salary cap in Year 2 increased to where it is now. That would have hurt many teams, including the Rangers, moving forward.
All in all, we're all just happy hockey is back.