NHL owners were to vote yesterday on the tentative labor agreement reached with the players’ union.
If a majority approved, as was expected, the NHL will move one step closer toward the official end of the long lockout that began on Sept. 16.
As of Tuesday afternoon, a memorandum of understanding of the deal had not been completed, so the union had yet to schedule a vote for its more than 700 members. A majority of players must also approve the deal for hockey to return to the ice.
“We continue to document the agreement,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail on Tuesday.
If there are no snags, ratification could be finished by Saturday and training camps can open on Sunday if approval is reached on both sides. A 48-game regular season would then be expected to begin on Jan. 19.
“[We] don’t need a signed document to complete ratification process,” Daly wrote, “but we do need a signed agreement to open camps. The goal is to get that done by Saturday so that we can open camps on Sunday.”
The NHL has yet to release a new schedule. The regular season was supposed to begin on Oct. 11.
The deal was reached on Sunday on the 113th day of the lockout and seemingly saved the season that was delayed for three months and cut nearly in half. It took a 16-hour final bargaining session in a New York hotel for the agreement to finally be completed at about 5am.
The lockout led to the cancellation of at least 480 games. That brings the total of lost regular-season games to a minimum 2,178 during three lockouts under NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The damage is significant. Perhaps US$1 billion in revenue could be lost this season, given that about 40 percent of the regular-season schedule will not be played. Players will also lose a large part of their salaries, not to mention time lost in their careers.