The NHL board of governors unanimously approved the league's new 10-year collective-bargaining agreement on Wednesday at a meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman in New York.
"This great game has been gone for far too long, and for that we are truly sorry," Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the league's board of governors, said in a statement. "As our League moves toward what we know will be a period of growth for the sport, and a time of great excitement and entertainment for our fans, I would add the appreciation of the Board for the dedication the players showed during the negotiating process -- and for their role in securing an agreement that will move the National Hockey League forward in the years ahead. There's no doubt we all love this game.
"Together our collective future is extremely bright. Our only interest now is to look ahead and to focus on what this great game can provide to the best sports fans in the world."
All that's left standing in the way of the teams getting back on the ice is ratification by the NHL Players' Association, according to multiple reports. That is expected to come by Friday or Saturday.
The players will vote on a memorandum of understanding that was still being finalized Wednesday by attorneys, ESPN.com reported.
If the players sign off on the agreement, training camps are set to open Sunday and the abbreviated 48-game regular season will begin Jan. 19.
The owners and the players agreed in principle to a deal last Sunday. The owners locked out the players on Sept. 16, wiping out nearly half of the regular season, the Winter Classic and the NHL All-Star Game.