League owners approve new labor deal
By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - The National Hockey League's (NHL) board of governors ratified the tentative labor deal on Wednesday, followed by Commissioner Gary Bettman's apology for dragging fans and sponsors through a four-month lockout.
Requiring a simple majority to pass, the 30 league owners voted unanimously to approve the 10-year deal that was agreed to early on Sunday after a marathon 16-hour bargaining session.
The NHL Players' Association is expected to vote on the collective bargaining agreement on Friday and Saturday.
If the players approve the deal it will remove the final obstacle standing in the way of what is expected to be a 48-game regular season that would begin January 19.
The NHL said it will announce its schedule immediately after the agreement has been ratified by both parties.
After a rancorous 113-day lockout that cost both sides billions of dollars, players and owners have now turned their attention to mending fences with disgruntled fans and putting the focus back onto the ice.
"To the players, who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labor contracts, to our partners who support the league financially and personally and most importantly to our fans that love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry," Bettman told reporters following the vote at a Manhattan hotel.
"I know an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up of past few months but I owe you an apology nonetheless. Continued...