Unless there is a final change of heart, the NHL will be back on for the 2005-2006 season. The owners and players have tentatively agreed on a six-year collective bargaining agreement, which will include a salary cap.

The two sides worked on the agreement late Tuesday night and into the early hours Wednesday, before an announcement was made Wednesday morning. The NHL Board of Governors and the NHL Players Association must both ratify the agreement for it to take affect. Voting is expected next week.

According to the Canadian sports network, TSN, the deal includes the following agreements:

•All existing contracts will automatically be reduced by 24 percent
•Players salaries cannot exceed 54% of the NHL’s revenue
•Teams cannot spend more than $39-million and cannot spend less than $24-million on player salaries
•No one player can earn more than 20% of a team’s payroll—$7.4-million

On September 15, 2005 NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman locked the players out after the two sides failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The 2004-2005 season was put on hold and eventually cancelled. It was the first time a major North American sports league has missed an entire season due to a labor disagreement.

The NHL is also expected to institute rules which will decrease the size of goalies pads, which should help increase scoring. Also, shootouts are expected to be added to decide ties after one overtime period, which will eliminate ties. There will also be no goalie puck-handling outside of the area behind the crease.