The ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is the start of a new era for the National Hockey League -- an era that will be marked by heightened competitive balance and exceptional entertainment.
Highlighted below are several progressive enhancements to NHL hockey that reinforce the game's prominence in the entertainment marketplace.
Groundbreaking Owner-Player Partnership -- The League's Owners and Players, moving forward with a new spirit of cooperation and partnership established by a revolutionary Collective Bargaining Agreement, have established several joint committees to help chart the course for hockey's future. Among them are a Competition Committee that will discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the game, and a Broadcasting & Marketing Committee, that will focus on broader business-related policies and initiatives.
Invigorated NHL Shield -- The League's updated mark uses upward-reading letters to project a vibrant, optimistic image, yet defers to tradition by maintaining the time-honored shape of the original shield. The updated logo's dominant color is silver, in homage to the most cherished trophy in sports, the sterling silver Stanley Cup.
Rule Changes To Enhance Entertainment Experience -- The skills of the League's most talented players will be showcased by a package of rule changes that accentuates offense and maximizes the excitement and entertainment of NHL Hockey. The package includes:
Shootouts Guarantee A Winner -- The "breakaway" is the most exciting play in hockey, and fans will see more than ever this regular season as the NHL will implement a shootout to decide tied games. Games tied at the end of regulation play will continue with a sudden-death overtime period featuring four skaters per side (5 minutes). If the game remains tied, a shootout will determine the winner.
Rivalry-Based Schedule -- Rivalries stir fan passions, and the NHL's new rivalry-based schedule creates a greater number of compelling matchups and strengthened division rivalries, while also maintaining the opportunity to market stars and teams through inter-conference play.
Aggressive Broadcast Initiatives -- The NHL will institute aggressive new measures to bring fans closer to the game. Viewing fans will be brought "inside the glass" through such broadcast enhancements as HDTV telecasts, in-game interviews with head coaches, behind-the-scenes access to players and dressing rooms, additional camera positions, and players wearing microphones. Increased media access will give reporters covering NHL hockey the opportunity to enhance their coverage.
NHL Players To Participate In Turin, Vancouver Olympics -- The League will suspend play during the 2005-06 and 2009-10 regular seasons in order to allow players to participate on behalf of their respective countries at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, and Vancouver. The international scope of the NHL player base is a point of difference for the NHL over all other North American professional sports leagues, and Olympic competition will showcase the world's best hockey players to a global viewing audience.
Performance-Enhancing Substances Policy -- Every NHL player will be subject to up to two "no-notice" tests every year, with at least one such test to be conducted on a team-wide basis. For the first positive test, a 20-game suspension without pay and mandatory referral to the League's Substance Abuse/Behavioral Health Program for evaluation, education and possible treatment. A second positive test will result in a 60-game suspension without pay. A third positive test will result in a permanent suspension. A player receiving a third positive test and a permanent suspension from play in the League will, however, be eligible to apply for reinstatement after two years. The joint Committee also will agree on a Prohibited Substances List. The list will include performance-enhancing substances on the list maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.