NHL Players' Association votes to extend collective agreement until 2012

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CHICAGO - The NHL Players' Association has decided to extend the current collective bargaining agreement through the 2011-12 season.

The agreement was originally set to expire after the upcoming season—with the players holding the right to extend it for a seventh year. They voted to do that during their executive board meeting in Chicago on Tuesday.

"The NHLPA is pleased to announce to hockey fans that the CBA will remain in effect through the 2011-12 season," the union said in a release. "It is apparent through the operation of the CBA that there are a number of issues that require serious examination. The NHLPA is currently reviewing these issues and will be forming a negotiating committee in the coming months in order to address these matters."

The union remains without a leader and is still drafting a new constitution. By extending the agreement, they've given the eventual leadership team more time to prepare for negotiations with the league.

Also Tuesday, the players voted to retain the five per cent growth factor for next season's salary cap—ensuring it will rise for a fifth straight time. As part of the CBA, the players have the right to include the growth factor in calculations once revenues exceed US$2.1 billion.

The current salary cap of $56.8 million is expected to rise to roughly $59 million. The official number for the 2010-11 season will be released prior to free agency opening July 1.

The union's decision also means that NHL teams will have the ability to use the performance bonus cushion next season, which could be used to help lure free agents.

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