Categorically, everything is beautiful.
I've been waiting for this day because it was a somewhat obscure procedural date that, had there been no news, would mean something potentially pleasant: Guaranteed full season of NHL hockey next year!
Alas, with the current CBA having been extended once already, there wasn't much likelihood that both sides would prefer to punt negotiations again and play one more year under the current deal. So that's why you saw news today -- four months before the agreement's expiration on Sept. 15 -- that the NHL officially filed notice of its intent to terminate or modify the current agreement.
As has been mentioned (though sometimes buried) in most reports, this was an expected move. The NHL has talked openly of the next CBA and though they've rightly given no specifics, they'll certainly want changes.
The salary cap, which might rise to as high as $69 million this summer after starting at $39 million in 2005-06, has also dragged the salary floor up with it thanks to the concrete payroll range of $16 million (give or take a buyout and a Redden). This has nothing to do with being an Islanders fan, but I have to laugh when I hear pundits rip cheap teams in this league as if the cost of doing business hasn't skyrocketed.
True, NHL revenues have boomed. But it's still largely the top 5-6 revenue-generating teams who are responsible for that -- teams that spent to the current cap level even before the lockout. (Yes, this screams for increased revenue sharing, a topic for another day.)
Anyway, it would be nice if the two sides started talking ... sometime ... soon. And you're welcome to panic about the state of the CBA. But if you're the panicking type, today's news isn't a good reason to turn your Panic Level up to Orange; that move was coming all along.
P.S. Sorry, this was intended to be the night's playoff thread; no idea why it didn't show on the front page until later.