The NHL Board Of Governors met today at the Western Times Square in New York to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will hold for 10 years. To represent the Tampa Bay Lightning team owner Jeff Vinik, general manager Steve Yzerman, and assistant general manager Julien BriseBois were in attendance. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Chairman of the Board Of Governors Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the Boston Bruins, held a press conference after the meeting to confirm the ratification.
The vote went through unanimously. The CBA still won’t be official until the NHLPA votes on it and it gets signed. A spokesperson for the union said that should happen on Saturday. Teams are looking to start training camp as soon as Sunday, with the season starting on January 19. It’s rumored, though not official, that the Lightning might actually get to start off the season at home this year. The schedule, which was set to be released either tomorrow or Friday, is now to be released “instantaneously” after the deal is signed.
“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, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry. I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.
“The National Hockey League has a responsibility to earn back your trust and support whether you watch one game or every game, and that effort begins today,” Commissioner Bettman later added. “The players are ready to play their hearts out for you. The teams are preparing to welcome you back with open arms. The wait is just about over. Like all of you, we can’t wait to drop the puck.” -Gary Bettman
Not covered in the CBA is the issue of realignment and participation in the Olympics. Bettman said that they will address these issues in the future. It will be interesting to see how they do the realignment.
Bettman ended with this:
“Once the players ratify the Agreement, all the things that you love most about NHL hockey — the speed, the intensity, the skill, the teamwork and the incredible passion — will greet you once again,” he added. “As I said, we know that no words of apology or explanation will soften the disappointment. I read the letters, I followed the tweets, I read the blogs — we have a lot of work to do.”