North America's professional hockey league could resume play in the coming weeks, after owners and the player's union reached a tentative labor agreement.
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the agreement early Sunday, saying “there is still a lot of work to be done but the basic framework of the deal has been agreed upon.''
Player union executive director Donald Fehr told reporters, “Hopefully within very few days, the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us.''
The deal still needs to be approved by a vote of the player's union and by team owners.
More than half of the ice hockey season – including league's all-star game – has been lost to the nearly four-month-long lockout. Depending on when and if the deal is approved by the players and owners, a shortened season could get underway later this month.
The tentative 10-year pact includes agreements on player pensions,a salary cap and revenue sharing. It does not address whether the professional players will participate in the Olympics or a possible World Cup of Hockey.
If the two sides had failed to reach an agreement, the National Hockey League could have become the first major North American sports league to lose two full seasons to labor strife. Labor disputes wiped out the entire 2004-2005 hockey season.