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Thursday, February 17, 2005; Page D07

Q: When will the NHL play again?

Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will turn its attention to the 2005-06 season and "will explore all our options" to make that happen. The preseason and regular season schedule will be announced in July.

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Q: Does that mean the league will implement a new economic system and open with replacement players?

The league said it will continue to negotiate with the union, but that playing with replacements "is certainly an option that the league and the clubs will have to consider at an appropriate time."

Q: What happens to players who have remaining years on contracts?

That will be a matter determined in collective bargaining. Players are not paid during the lockout.

Q: Will there be a draft this June?

In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, a draft will not be held. The rights of players eligible for the draft this year will be determined by the bargaining process.

Q: Will the players playing in Europe ever return?

About 350 NHL players are playing in Europe. How many come back to the NHL likely will depend on how much a new agreement will allow them to make.

Q: Will the NHL contract teams?

The league says that is not an option, but no team is generating any revenue until the game is played again.

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