The NHL's Board of Governors gave unanimous approval Wednesday to the collective bargaining agreement it had tentatively reached with the players' association.
The next step will be for players to ratify the deal. That electronic voting process is expected to begin on Friday and conclude on Saturday, with players also approving the deal.
That would allow the NHL to officially end the lockout and permit training camps to open on Sunday. As soon as the lockout is officially lifted, the league is set to release a full regular-season schedule in which each team will play 48 games within their respective conferences. The season is scheduled to start on Jan. 19.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking at a news conference in New York, indicated he recognized the damage done to the league during the lockout.
To our players, our partners and our fans, I am sorry, he said. I read the letters. I followed the tweets. I read the blogs. We have a lot of work to do to gain back your support.