NEW YORK – After weeks of tough negotiations, the NHL and its players reached a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation on Friday to put the season on hold again so the game’s biggest stars can compete next year in the Sochi Olympics.

It marks the fifth straight Olympics dating to Nagano in 1998 in which the NHL will allow its players to participate. The league will take a break from the regular season Feb. 9 and return to action Feb. 26. The hockey tournament runs Feb. 12-23.

More than 120 NHL players are expected to represent their countries in Sochi.