Lockout officially over, season to begin January 19

Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:18pm EST

Workers put the finishing touches on the installation of the Washington Capitals logo at center ice during the laying down process of the playing surface at Verizon Center, the home of the NHL Washington Capitals, in Washington January 9, 2013.REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Workers put the finishing touches on the installation of the Washington Capitals logo at center ice during the laying down process of the playing surface at Verizon Center, the home of the NHL Washington Capitals, in Washington January 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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(Reuters) - The National Hockey League (NHL) lockout is officially over and a condensed 48-game season will begin next week, the league said on Saturday after signing a memorandum of understanding with the NHL Players' Association.

Training camps will open league-wide on Sunday and the long-awaited regular season will begin on January 19 with 13 games, the NHL said in a statement.

The memorandum of understanding, essentially an abridged version of the collective bargaining agreement that spells out the terms under which the league and players will operate, was the last obstacle standing in the way of ending the lockout.

Earlier on Saturday the NHLPA said its players voted to ratify the 10-year labor deal the two sides tentatively reached last week after a 16-hour negotiating session. NHL owners had voted unanimously to ratify the deal on Wednesday.

The puck will drop on the regular season next week with 26 of the NHL's 30 teams in action, including the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings at home to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The dispute, which was the league's fourth work stoppage in 20 years and the first since a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, began in mid-September and resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue for the NHL and players.

The season was originally scheduled to start last October.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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