The National Lacrosse League (NLL) and the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association (PLPA) have reached an agreement on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which will ensure labour relations through the 2020 NLL season.
In the deal, the league announced that it was expandng its schedule from 16 to 18 matches, meaning that schedule will be even further unbalanced, but could be quickly brought back under control with the addition of a tenth club down the line.
The minimum base salary and maximum limits for the majority of the league's players will remain unchanged for the first two years of the deal, but the qualifying age for Unrestricted Free Agency was lowered from 32 to 30 years old.
And while Franchise Designations were reduced from two to one per club, players aged 34 years or older are now able to reject the Franchise Designation, should they so choose.
The league standings will now be of greater importance, as the Championship has been reduced from an eight to a six club competition, with the division champion will earn a first-round bye, while the second and third placed clubs will compete in a single-game elimination match, hosted by the second placed club.
The division finals will thus be expanded to a two-leg affair, with the division champions hosting the second leg. In the event each club wins a match, a 10-minute tiebreaker match will be played immediately following the conclusion of the second leg.
NLL Commissioner George Daniel said, "The new CBA will allow us to improve our business model. This deal should foster a great era of growth for the league. I would like to thank everyone from both sides who worked on reaching this deal, but I would like to especially thank the players who participated in the bargaining sessions for their high level of professionalism during this process.”
These remarks were mirrored by PLPA President Peter Schmitz, who said "I too would like to thank all the players and advisers that participated in this process along with the GM’s, Owners and Commissioner Daniel at the table whom engaged in productive candid negotiation over the past 18 months."
He continued, "I applaud the players for their willingness to assist the clubs in stabilising expenses for the next two years with the hopes that they and the league are rewarded with growth and expanded awareness of our great sport. The non-economic gains afforded the players were a welcomed improvement to current conditions and will be appreciated for many years to come."
President and General Manager Doug Locker of the Vancouver Stealth, was visibly pleased, proclaiming that "we are grateful for the hard work that Commissioner Daniel, and the other members of the committee, put into this effort," which was ratified on Monday by both parties, and is effective immediately.
The Stealth's season begins on January 1st at Colorado, and return to Langley a week later to face Minnesota at the Langley Events Centre.