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NHL lockout ends: 48-game season to start Jan. 19

Marian Hoss(L) celebrates with Jonathan Toews after tying game two apiece early second period Chicago Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks

Marian Hossa (L) celebrates with Jonathan Toews after tying the game at two apiece early in the second period of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the San Jose Sharks NHL game at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 6, 2013 10:59PM

In a matter of days, coach Joel Quenneville should be back on the ice barking instructions at Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and the rest of the Blackhawks during a condensed training camp.

There will be stories about how the pressure is on Quenneville, with two handpicked assistants at his side, to lead the Hawks deep into the playoffs. There will be stories about how general manager Stan Bowman also is on the hot seat after consecutive first-round playoff exits.

But all of it is better than talking about a work stoppage.

After a lengthy overnight negotiating session in New York, the league and the NHL Players’ ­Association reached a tentative deal for a new collective-bargaining agreement early Sunday.

“The news definitely spread fast all over the world when the agreement was reached,” Hossa said. “Everybody is excited”

The deal still needs to be ratified by the league’s Board of Governors and the union before it’s official and camps can begin. But setbacks are unlikely at this point after months without hockey. The truncated regular season is expected to start Jan. 19.

Hossa is in Chicago, but others, including Toews and Kane, are not. Kane is in the process of returning from Switzerland, where he played during the lockout.

“I’m really happy that this is over,” Toews, who is expected in Chicago soon, said via text message. “A lot of credit goes to the players who were in the bargaining sessions and worked very hard to get a deal done.

“I’m excited to play hockey again, although it’s bittersweet because a lot of damage was done to our game. As players we need to keep showing our fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there, but for now, it’s great to know we’ll be back on the ice very soon.”

The regular season is expected to have 48 games, with all games within the conference.

Ex-Hawk and current Washington Capitals winger Troy Brouwer said players are expecting a very short training camp and possibly no exhibition games.

“It’s going to be more like a minicamp, I think,” Brouwer said. “Three or four days of going really hard, making sure guys are in shape, getting ready and learning systems.”

The new collective-bargaining agreement will be a 10-year pact that includes plenty of changes. It will lower the salary cap in its ­second year, going from a ­
prorated $70.2 million for the shortened ­season to $64.3 million for 2013-14.

Revenue will be split 50-50. There will be a seven-year limit for free-agent contracts and an eight-year maximum for teams re-signing their own players.

On Sunday, many players apologized to fans and everyone affected by the lockout.

“We know lots of fans are happy that we’re going to start and that lots of fans are frustrated,” Hossa said.

“It took a long time. I don’t blame them. I know a lot of fans are going to be frustrated. Hopefully, they’ll fill our stands, and it will be like before. We’ll do our best to entertain to them. You know, just play our best.”

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