Gary Bettman held a news conference on Wednesday to confirm that the NHL owners voted in favour of the new CBA. He also hinted at plans in the works to make things right with the rather large body of disgruntled fans.
“To the players who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labour 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. “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 offered his apology at the familiar podium at the Westin Hotel in New York City, the site of so many condescending conferences and missed opportunities over the past days. Teams around the league have already placed their own apologies at the feet of their fans, so it really was only a matter of time before Bettman did his part to make things right.
“As commissioner of the National Hockey League, it sometimes falls upon me to make tough 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 who have supported the National Hockey League in many different ways,” he added.
“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 league will now try once more to win back fans, hinting at “outreaches” and “campaigns” to pull people back into the fold.
The NHLPA, meanwhile, will vote on the CBA over the course of Friday and Saturday. Training camp is set to open officially on Sunday.