NHL, union reach tentative agreement to end lockout

NEW YORK -  The National Hockey League and the players' association have announced a tentative labor agreement that will save the hockey season.

A marathon negotiating session that lasted more than 16 hours at the Sofitel Hotel and stretched from early Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning produced a deal that will ultimately end the lockout that reached its 113th day on Sunday.

"Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new Collevtive Bargaining Agreement, the details of which needs to be put to paper," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told NHL.com "We have to dot a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon."

Upon hearing the news, Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene said on his twitter page, "Hey Denver, I have a question for you…Can you say 'Avs Hockey'???  #weareback #wornwithpride

The NHL has canceled all of its game through Jan. 14, including the Winter Classic scheduled for New Year's Day and the All-Star game in Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 27.

Lockout Agreement

According to ESPN, the tentative agreement includes a 10-year collective bargaining agreement with a mutual opt-out clause after eight years and contract and contract term limits at seven years.

One of the major issues of the lockout was the salary cap. The 2013-14 salary cap will be $64.3 million, reported ESPN.

The NHL avoided the embarrassment of having a second season lost because of a labor dispute when no other North American sports league ever had to cancel one. A lockout eight years ago that ushered in a salary-cap system to hockey for the first time wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

The new CBA needs to be drafted and formally approved by both the NHL and the NHLPA. It will replace the old agreement that expired on September 15.

Will Fans Return?

The NHL would be getting out of its fourth lockout since 1992. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an interview with Toronto radio station Sportsnet The Fan 590 in December that the work stoppage could affect the public perception of the league.

"I think it's fair to say it's a crap shoot," Daly said at the time. "Obviously, I think we've tried to be as open and transparent with our business partners as possible as to what this fight is all about, what we're trying to accomplish and why this is good for the sport.

"But there is nobody fooling anybody that what is going on right now and that fact that we're not playing hockey is a good thing for either the sport of the brand. There is no doubt about it."

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock had a worse forecast for the league.

"Hate to say it," Babcock told Sportsnet.ca. "But we could end up like bowling."

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