We're halfway to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement being in place.
The NHL Board of Governors gathered in New York City on Wednesday to discuss the tentative agreement between the league and the NHLPA. The agenda? Of course it was the new deal, and the owners voted in favor, ratifying the new CBA on their end.
"On behalf of the National Hockey League's Board of Governors, I'm happy to announce today we agreed unanimously to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players association," Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said. "Hockey is back.
"This great game has been gone far too long. For that, we are truly sorry. There's no doubt we all love this game. Our only interest now is to look ahead."
This is hardly a surprise. The owners leave the negotiating up to Gary Bettman and his staff in the NHL headquarters, so if the deal was good enough for him, it was going to be good enough for the owners. Perhaps not all the owners are in love with the agreement, but at this point they weren't going to say no, not with hockey set to return in less than two weeks.
From there Bettman took the stage and delivered a strong apology to everybody for this lockout.
"I'm sorry," Bettman said. "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 NHL has a responsibility to win back your trust and support, whether you watch one game or every game. I read the letters. I followed the tweets. I read the blogs. We have a lot of work to do."
As for what the NHL will do to reach out to fans, Bettman said that campaigns are in the works but will be announced at a later time, namely after the players have ratified the CBA too.
Now it turns to the players to ratify the deal and officially lift the lockout. It was originally believed that the players would start the voting on Thursday, but it looks like it's going to take just a little bit longer to get started.
From Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press:
The NHLPA now expects to hold its player vote on Friday and Saturday.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 9, 2013
Don't worry. The delay is not expected to disturb the plans to open up training camps on Sunday. It just takes some time to draft a memorandum of understanding so the players can actually see what they're voting on.
So long as the vote is finished by Saturday, Sunday can still be the first day of business for the NHL.
Also, at that time the full schedule will be released.
As for the vote itself, it will likely have the same amount of drama as the Board of Governors' vote, which is to say there won't be any suspense. It will be approved overwhelmingly, no doubt, and we would say unanimously, but in a group of more than 700 players it's hard to get everybody to vote yes.
Here are the key details of the tentative agreement for the new CBA.