There was a return to normalcy Monday for the Carolina Hurricanes players at Raleigh Center Ice.

They were able to dress in the Canes' locker room at RCI. They wore Canes sweaters on the ice. They were able to leave their gear in the room after the informal skate, not stuff equipment bags to haul out to their cars and trucks.

The NHL has the makings of a new collective bargaining agreement, effectively ending the lockout. The league's board of governors must ratify the CBA, likely on Wednesday, and the players could vote on it Thursday.

But NHL teams were told the players could use team practice facilities for the first time since Sept. 15, when the previous CBA expired.

"It's the day we've kind of been hoping for since this lockout began, just to be able to come back in your own dressing room and get back on the ice knowing there's going to be a season," goalie Cam Ward said. "I'm just excited that it's over and we're back at it."

Ward is one of the Canes players who remained in Raleigh during the 113-day lockout, joining a dwindling number of teammates three times a week at RCI. Eric Staal and his brother, Jordan, also stayed put, as did defensemen Joe Corvo, Jay Harrison and Joni Pitkanen.

But on Monday, some faces not seen in a while reappeared – forwards Chad LaRose and Patrick Dwyer, and defensemen Jamie McBain and Tim Gleason. The group will swell in the next few days as the players come streaming back in.

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