NHL owners have voted in favour of ratifying the new collective bargaining agreement with their players.
A majority of owners were in support of the new deal, which the league and NHL Players' Association reached early Sunday morning after a 16-hour bargaining session.
The players aren't expected to start their own ratification vote until Friday. It will be conducted electronically over two days and needs majority support from the roughly 740 union members to pass.
If all goes to plan, the process would be completed by Saturday and training camps would open around the league on Sunday.
The NHL is targeting a 48-game season beginning Jan. 19, which leaves no time for teams to squeeze in any exhibition games. The schedule is expected to be released in the coming days.
A 48-game season was played following the 1994-95 NHL lockout and that allowed for a balanced intraconference schedule in what was then a 26-team league.
It's going to be a little more complicated this time around.
The league is planning to have teams play three games against the 10 opponents within the same conference but outside their division. They will then have an unbalanced schedule against division rivals, with five games coming against two teams and four against the two others, according to a source.
The CBA process will continue behind the scenes even after the season gets underway. The league and NHLPA have agreed to meet over 10 consecutive days in February to finish off a document that will total several hundred pages once it is finished.
"It's a great deal for hockey," said Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis. "It's great that we're back playing."
Added Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman: "I think it was extremely important to get a deal done and not miss the entire season."