The NHL Players Association said its members had voted to ratify a new contract, clearing the way for the league to proceed with a shortened season.
“The members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) have voted to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHLPA and the National Hockey League (NHL),” a statement from the union said on Saturday.
Owners had already unanimously approved the tentative deal on Wednesday, and players were able to vote electronically from Thursday night through Saturday morning.
“While the players’ vote ratifies the new CBA with the NHL owners, a written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) consistent with what the players voted on, must be completed before the Agreement becomes final,” the union said. “The NHLPA and the NHL continue their work to finalize the MOU.”
Once both sides sign a memorandum specifying the major points of the agreement, the logistics of starting the regular season can begin.
Training camps are expected to open Sunday and the league will reveal its shortened schedule — expected to include 48 games per team starting on January 19.
The new accord will last for 10 years, with an opt-out clause after eight.
The players’ share of hockey-related income will fall from 57 percent to a 50 percent with the owners also getting 50 percent.
The salary cap for the upcoming season will also reportedly be $70.2 million with a minimum payroll of $44 million. The salary cap will drop to $64.3 million for the 2013-14 season.
The contract dispute has cost the NHL more than half of a season that was originally slated to begin in October.
But with the agreement they avoid losing an entire season to labor woes for the second time.
A similar bitter dispute over finances wiped out all of the 2004-05 campaign.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]