Players: 'It was a battle'

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Players: 'It was a battle'

NEW YORK -- And when it was over, the players-turned-negotiators showed the strain of a long, difficult process that finally ended at 6 a.m. Sunday morning with the announcement that the NHL and its player union finally had an agreement on a new CBA.

"It was a battle," said Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey, a key member of the union's bargaining team. "NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said a month ago it was a tough negotiation. That's what it was.

"Players obviously would rather not have been here, but our focus now is to give the fans whatever it is 48 games, 50 games the most exciting season we can. The mood has been nervous for a while. You want to be playing. You want to be done with this."

The collective bargaining agreement must be ratified by a majority of the league's 30 owners and the union's membership of approximately 740 players.

"Hopefully within a very few days the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us," said the NHLPA's executive director, Don Fehr.

All schedule issues, including the length of the season, still need to be worked out. The NHL has models for 50- and 48-game seasons.

The original estimate was regular-season games could begin about eight days after a deal was reached. It is believed that all games will be played within the two respective conferences, but that also hasn't been decided.

The players have been locked out since Sept. 16, the day after the previous agreement expired. That deal came after an extended lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.

"Any process like this is difficult. It can be long," Fehr said.

Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Playoff format going to irk somebody

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Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Playoff format going to irk somebody

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Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

The Patriots have been invited to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl LI victory with president Donald Trump on April 19.

How many players RSVP in the affirmative to the invitation remains to be seen. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a Patriots fan, announced the date at a press briefing on Thursday. Spicer noted that the visit will coincide with the 242nd anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord.

Though Trump considers Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as friends, several members of last season's championship roster have noted already that they didn't play to attend a celebratory trip to Trump's White House. 

The list of those who have gone on record saying they weren't interested in heading to Washington, DC this year includes safety Devin McCourty, tight end Martellus Bennett (now a member of the Packers), defensive end Chris Long (free agent) and running back LeGarrette Blount (free agent). Defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Dont'a Hightower also noted that they didn't plan to go.

The Patriots are the first championship team that Trump has extended an invitation to during his presidency.

Belichick and his staff will be hard at work before taking some time off to celebrate. The White House visit will take place about one week before Day 1 of the NFL Draft.