We have a deal.

The NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association voted on Friday to ratify the Return to Play protocol and collective bargaining agreement, it was announced Friday evening.

This means the NHL will return this summer if deemed safe and carry labour peace for the next six years.

The Memorandum of Understanding – reached earlier this week – needed a 51 per cent approval rating from NHLPA members in addition to ratification from the owners’ side. But as TSN Hockey Bob McKenzie noted earlier on Friday, it is virtually unheard of for ownership to reject something that has been endorsed by commissioner Gary Bettman.

According to TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli, NHLPA membership voted 502 to 135 in favour of ratifying the full CBA and collective bargaining agreement.

Had the players not ratified the MOU, McKenzie notes it would have meant there would likely be no conclusion to the 2019-20 NHL season.

McKenzie tweets that players will have until 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday to exercise their penalty-free right to opt out of the 2019-20 Return to Play. Those who wish to opt out must do so in writing to the NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.

Teams participating in a best-of-five series during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers are considered to have made the postseason and participated in a postseason series.

The NHL season was paused on March 12, one day after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and began a domino effect that shut down much of the professional sports world.