The waiting has been the hardest part for Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards.
Richards likened it to waiting for Christmas since NHL owners and players agreed last weekend to the framework for a labor contract and worked to put the deal in writing.
The players' union was expected to approve the 10-year deal Saturday while its members continued to work out on their own. The league would then release a 48-game schedule for each of the 30 teams. The first official practice would come Sunday and the first games next week.