SUN Hockey Pool

NHL agreement on horizon?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

With fair winds and a little luck, the end of the National Hockey League's journey to nowhere could end just after the July 4th fireworks.

While getting a collective bargaining agreement by Canada Day is asking too much, chances improve once negotiators get through the Canadian and U.S. holiday weekend and closer to the rough deadlines to start the 2005-06 season on time.

Representatives of the owners and players met in their small group format again yesterday in Toronto and it's likely those talks will go into today and tomorrow as was the case with productive discussions in New York last week.

League personnel is hoping the optimism isn't misplaced.

"It's not really a deal until you have it signed off," Florida Panthers general manager Mike Keenan said yesterday. "But at least our thoughts and our information tell us it's being worked on diligently."


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