An official end to the four-month N.H.L. lockout was unexpectedly delayed by technicalities Saturday morning.
At 8 a.m., N.H.L. players finished 36 hours of voting on the new collective bargaining agreement reached by their union and the league last Sunday. Approval was expected, but the announcement of the result was postponed while lawyers from both sides worked on a memorandum of understanding that officially summarized the agreement.
“Per agreement with the N.H.L., we will announce results of player vote later today,” the union said in a statement about two hours after the voting concluded. “Discussions to finalize the M.O.U. continue this morning.”
The players’ vote came after the N.H.L. Board of Governors’ unanimous approval of the deal Wednesday. Those two votes should have ended the lockout.
But Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the official end of the lockout, and the resumption of league business, would come only after the N.H.L. and the union signed the memorandum. On Saturday morning, lawyers from both sides were still working on the document.
The task had taken considerably longer than expected. Saturday morning, Daly replied to questions about a timetable via e-mail, writing, “I don’t have a current expectation on timing.”
Officials who were involved in preparing the memorandum, but were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, attributed the delay to a large volume of work. They said the task was nearing its conclusion.
The delay put off several important matters.
The N.H.L. did not release its schedule at the conclusion of the players’ vote. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the league would announce the schedule “instantaneously” with the players’ ratification.
Other league business was also delayed, including an announcement officially calling for training camps to open Sunday, with trades, signings and all other matters common to a league in normal working mode.
N.H.L. players have been skating at team rinks since Monday, but no coaches were permitted, so the players ran the practices.
That is expected to change Sunday when camps are to begin for a six-day run. A 48-game regular season is expected to start Saturday.
But all that must await the official end of the lockout.
All 30 N.H.L. clubs have received a tentative schedule, and details have leaked out.
Unofficially, the Rangers will open the season in Boston on Saturday and play their home opener the next night against Pittsburgh.
The Islanders and the Devils are expected to open the season against each other with a Saturday game at Nassau Coliseum.