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NHL players association declines to reopen CBA @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL (AP) -The executive board of the NHL Players' Association turned down an opportunity to reopen the collective bargaining agreement with the NHL on Friday, ensuring hockey labor peace through the 2010-11 season.

The union had until May to decide, but chose to make the announcement early during NHL All-Star weekend. The players' association can extend the deal, which ended the yearlong lockout in 2005, for another season if it chooses. That determination won't have to be made until May 2011.

"Today's announcement that the NHLPA's membership is committed to playing under the CBA for two more years is great news for all hockey fans," NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said. "The players and their executive board decided that due to the current economic conditions as well as the players' focus on continuing to help grow this game and expose our great athletes to many more fans, now is not the appropriate time to enter complex labor negotiations."

The NHL held out to get a "cost-certainty" model and finally convinced the union to accept a salary cap system after the 2004-05 season was canceled due to the lockout. League revenues have grown every year since, and the current minimum payroll for each team now exceeds the original cap ceiling of $39 million.

"This announcement certifies the players' endorsement of the collective bargaining agreement and affirms that the system is working in the manner anticipated from its inception," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We are extremely pleased that the league and the players now can move forward together and that the fans' focus can remain on the ice, where it belongs."

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