After four long, cold hockey-less months, the NHL lockout is finally over. The NHL Players' Association has signed a mutual operation agreement, ending the lockout while opening the shortened 2013 season, according to The Canadian Press' Chris Johnston:
The memorandum of understanding has been signed. The NHL lockout is officially over after 119 days. #dropthepuck— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 13, 2013
The NHL's Board of Governors recently voted unanimously to ratify the CBA, which left it up to the NHLPA, according to NHL.com's Dan Rosen. On Saturday, according to NHL.com, the NHLPA made that happen.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun made a note of the change to this year's trade deadline now that a season will officially be played:
For this season only - trade deadline will be April 3 while free agency opens July 5— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 13, 2013
The lockout, which began way back on Sept. 16, lasted nearly four months and resulted in more than 500 regular-season games being lost, forever.
According to the Associated Press via ESPN.com, with a new 10-year CBA ratified by both sides, training camps are set to open on Sunday, Jan. 13, meaning players, coaches and officials will have less than a week to gear up for the season.
There will be no preseason games, according to the AP report.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was very apologetic following the Board of Governors' unanimous vote earlier this week (via Rosen):
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.
With ratification over and done with, NHL fans can now look forward to the release of the truncated season schedule. The 48-game regular season is expected to start on Jan. 19, according to ESPN.com columnist and TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun via Twitter:
No surprise, but NHL now solely focused on Jan 19 as season start date.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 8, 2013
With a new CBA in place, and a schedule on the way, hockey is back. Finally.
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