TSN has learned the NHL and the NHL Officials' Association, which represents referees and linesmen, have tentatively agreed to a new four-year contract that will take effect when the current deal expires this summer. The new collective bargaining agreement with the on-ice officials must still be ratified by the NHLOA membership as well as the NHL board of governors, but bargaining units for both sides reached the tentative agreement over the last few weeks. Sources say the on-ice officials will receive improved compensation in terms of both salary and pension, but that the league will gain broader rights to re-assign or replace officials for non-performance. Sources also suggest all new referees and linesman coming into the league will be legislated to wear helmet and visors, although existing on-ice officials who choose not to wear the protective gear are excluded as part of a grandfather clause in the contract. The NHL and NHLOA were both eager to conclude negotiations early on the new contract. The league didn't want to go through another labour dispute with its officials after last season's disastrous lockout with the NHL Players' Association. And the NHLOA membership, which didnâ€™t receive any salary during the lockout, wasnâ€™t looking forward to a lockout or strike of their own.