The news of a tentative agreement on a new CBA broke in the middle of the night, at around 5am this morning after a 16-hour negotiating session. It's almost as if both sides were working extremely hard trying to get a deal done, with urgency that had not been seen during this entire process.
For the last two days the two sides came together for marathon negotiations in New York City. Both sides realized that they would lose the season (or worse) if an agreement wasn't reached soon. For months the sides didn't meet, or had negotiations that ended in posturing and blustering. It was a carnival show that dragged on for months, and drove pretty much everyone all of us crazy.
It's too bad that the two sides weren't working this hard in September or October, when the first games were going to be cancelled. In hindsight, missing regular season games wasn't something they were concerned about. Only when it came closer to killing the season was there any sense of urgency. They stopped the runaway train just in time. There was no nuclear option used. Smarter heads prevailed and we narrowly missed something much worse -- the NHLPA's disclaimer of interest hammer could have thrown things for a loop or the cancellation of another entire season.
Neither side is an angel here. The players knew full well what they were doing when they hired Don Fehr. His job was to keep them united (he did) and get the best deal possible for the union (he likely came close). The owners were out to crush the union again after winning such a decisive victory last time around. No one won here; the fans, players and owners all lost, some more than others.
But now, we can move on.
Hockey's back. It's about time.