With the 113-day lockout seemingly left behind, the 2012-13 NHL season can finally commence (even though games will only be played during 2013).
After a 16-hour marathon negotiation session that has turned United States federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh into a cult hero, the NHL and NHL Player's Association have come to terms on the framework of a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
With only the formal process of drafting and ratifying the document remaining in this arduous process, NHL hockey is less than two weeks away from returning to cities across North America.
According to multiple reports, the NHL sent out a memo to teams stating that the official start-up date for the season will come on Saturday, Jan. 19. If this is the case, it is believed that the league will operate under a 48-game condensed schedule that will feature interconference games.
Hours after the news broke about the deal on Sunday, some were hopeful that a 50-game schedule could commence on Jan. 15. However, the formal portion of the process is taking longer than some were hoping it would.
Until the document is approved by both the NHL's board of governors and the 700-plus members of the NHLPA, the lockout is still in effect (if only in name). This is halting the beginning of team operations, such as free agent signings, trades and training camp.
It has been widely reported that teams will require at least a week's worth of training camp in order to evaluate players, as well as get them back into game shape.
As it currently stands, it appears training camps will begin this weekend, with the start of the season coming one week after.