The kiss-and-make-up portion of the NHL lockout has begun in earnest, with commissioner Gary Bettman saying he’s sorry the season was delayed by four months and will consist of only 48 games, with the playoffs stretching until nearly July.
“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’m sorry,” Bettman said in a prepared statement Wednesday afternoon after the league’s board of governors ratified the new collective bargaining agreement. “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.”
Bettman went on to say: “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 who have supported the National Hockey League in many different ways.”
He also said, “In the end neither side got everything it wanted and everyone lost in the short term. But the NHL gained a long-term agreement that’s good for players and good for teams, and should guarantee the future success of NHL hockey for many years to come. It will help the game to grow, ensuring greater economic stability for all of our teams.”
The players are expected to vote in favor of the new CBA, with ratification expected sometime on Saturday. Training camps are set to open Sunday, and the regular season will begin Jan. 19. For the Kings, it means they will raise their first Stanley Cup championship banner before an afternoon game at Staples Center. The Chicago Blackhawks reportedly will be the Kings’ opening-day opponents.