NHL agrees provisional deal with players to end lockout

Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh Penguins in training The US and Canadian league locked the players out in mid-September

The National Hockey League (NHL) has reached a provisional agreement with players to end a near four-month lockout that had threatened to wipe out the whole season.

After 16-hours of negotiations, the two parties agreed a "framework", which still needs final approval.

"We have to dot a lot of i's and cross a lot of t's," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

The two sides are in dispute over how to split $3.3bn (£2.1bn) in revenue.

"There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon," Mr Bettman said.

"We have to go through a ratification process and the Board of Governors has to approve it from the League side and, obviously, the players have to approve it as well."

He said a decision about when to restart games had not been agreed.

The US and Canadian league locked the players out in mid-September, a month before the season was due to begin.

The work stoppage is the fourth in 20 years for the NHL. A previous union dispute saw the entire 2004-2005 season cancelled.

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