Credit NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs with saying the only thing fans, sponsors and players really wanted to hear after announcing the new CBA had been ratified by a 30-0 unanimous vote at the NHL offices in New York City.
The 113-day NHL lockout finally came to an official end from the leagues side on Wednesday with the approval of the CBA, and the conciliatory tone was the right one after a work stoppage that went on for much longer than it should have. Jacobs announced the CBAs passage at the beginning of the press conference, and then spoke for the collective Board of Governors.
To our fans and all around the globe, hockey is back, said Jacobs. This great game has been gone for far too long and for that we are sorry. The board also takes the time today to express our appreciation for the professionalism and commitment to our clubs and the sport that Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly displayed through this difficult period.
As our league moves toward what we know will be a period of growth for the sport, and a time for great excitement for our fans, I would add the appreciation of the board for the dedication showed by the players during the negotiating process and for their role in securing an agreement that will move the NHL forward in the years ahead. Theres no doubt we all love this game and together our collective future is extremely bright. Our only interest now is to look ahead and focus on what this great game can provide to the best sports fans in the world.
In a departure from his normal press conference tact, Bettman also delivered a personal message of sorrow at the way the NHL lockout played out. Many expected it would be over by Thanksgiving or Christmas at the latest, but instead the NHL season wont begin until Jan. 19, after four months of extremely hard bargaining.
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 have loved and missed NHL hockey, I am sorry, said Bettman. 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.
"As commissioner of the NHL it sometimes comes on me to make hard decisions that disappoint and occasionally anger players and fans. This was a long and extremely difficult negotiation. One that took a lot longer than anybody wanted. I know it caused frustration, disappointment and even suffering to a lot of people that supposed the NHL in different ways. In the end neither side got everything that they wanted and everybody lost in the short term. But the NHL gained a long term agreement thats good for players and good for teams, and should guarantee the future success of NHL hockey for many years to come."
Bettman indicated that the NHL intends to roll out plans for goodwill methods to win back disgruntled hockey fans, but those will become readily apparent over the next few weeks and months. For now the league and owners issued the apology everybody was waiting for, and can begin the healing process once the players ratify the new CBA by this weekend.