Hockey Lockout Looks Over

The NHL and the players' union reach an agreement in principle.
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The hockey lockout is over.

The NHL and the players' association reached an agreement in principle on a six-year labor deal, after a 10-month lockout that ended the entire 2004-2005 season, according to wire reports.

After months of unsuccessful negotiations, sides met for 24 hours to hammer out the collective bargaining agreement that would return the players to the rinks. The new pact should be in time to preserve hockey's 2005-2006 campaign.

The reported six-year deal has team-by-team salary cap with a payroll range of $21 million to $39 million, and it allows the players to opt out and reopen negotiations after four years. The salary cap and payroll range will increase or decrease to coincide with revenue each year of the deal, and the league's total expenditure on player costs can't exceed 54% of defined hockey-related revenue.

Both the NHLPA members and the NHL board of governors still have to ratify the agreement; it's expected to be formalized by next week.

If there aren't any surprises, this year's entry draft is expected to take place toward the end of the month in Ottawa, and training camps would start by September. The first game is scheduled for October.

The NHL lockout hurt more then just the players and owners. Companies such as InGlas of Sherbrooke, Quebec, a maker of hockey pucks, cut its staff in half. Also, companies such as Louisville Hockey, CCM, and Mission-Itech have all seen reductions in revenue.

Whether or not hockey fans return remains to be seen.