NEW YORK — NHL hockey is finally back, and this time it's official.
Nearly one week after a tentative labor deal was agreed to by the league and its players, the sides agreed to a required memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Saturday night that truly makes the lockout a thing of the past.
Training camps will open on Sunday, and a 48-game regular season will begin next Saturday. The signing of the MOU also paved the way for the NHL to release the long-awaited revised schedule.
Twenty-six of the 30 teams will play next Saturday. All games will be intraconference this season.
It took another lengthy negotiation to finally end the four-month lockout. The sides worked on the MOU all week, after a tentative deal was reached last Sunday morning — the 113th day of the lockout — and needed all day Saturday to finish it.
The announcement that the deal was signed came several hours after the union easily ratified the tentative agreement that was reached after an all-night, 16-hour bargaining session last weekend.
The more than 700 union members had a 36-hour window from Thursday night until Saturday morning to vote electronically. The NHL board of governors unanimously approved the deal on Wednesday.
The NHL hoped to open camps on Sunday, and that prospect seemed in jeopardy Saturday until the document was signed at 10 p.m. EST.