The NHL Board of Governors unanimously ratified the collective bargaining agreement in New York this afternoon by a 30-0 margin. The next step is for a player vote, which will occur Friday and Saturday.
Once ratified, the NHL schedule will be released and training camp will begin Sunday with the season opening Jan. 19. As of now, the Wild schedule is in a state of flux -- whether it starts on the road or at home -- so stay tuned.
Obviously, the Wild wants the home game because of Hockey Day Minnesota and is trying to get the league to accomodate that.
Commissioner Gary Bettman held a news conference this afternoon where he apologized.
“To the players who were very clear that they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labor contracts, to our partners who support the league and most importantly to our fans who love and have missed NHL hockey, I’m sorry," Bettman said. “I know an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the last few months, but I owe you an apology nonetheless.”
“As commissioner of the National Hockey League, it sometimes falls upon me to make tough decisions that disappoint and occasionally anger players and fans,” Bettman continued. “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.”
Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the Boston Bruins and Chairman of the Board of Governors, issued a statement, saying, “On behalf of the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors, I am pleased to report that today we unanimously voted to ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Which means, to our fans all around the globe, hockey is back.

“This great game has been gone for far too long, and for that we are truly sorry.

“The Board today also expressed its appreciation for the professionalism and commitment, to our clubs and to the sport, that Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Daly displayed throughout this difficult period. Gary, Bill and their staff worked tirelessly from long before the lockout began in an effort to reach a constructive conclusion.
Gary and Bill have the complete and unconditional support of the Board – and our gratitude.

“As our League moves toward what we know will be a period of growth for the sport, and a time of great excitement and entertainment for our fans, I would add the appreciation of the Board for the dedication the players showed during the negotiating process – and for their role in securing an agreement that will move the National Hockey League forward in the years ahead. There’s no doubt we all love this game.

“Together our collective future is extremely bright.

“Our only interest now is to look ahead and to focus on what this great game can provide to the best sports fans in the world.”
Obviously, this may all fall on deaf ears. In terms of incentives and perks and things to warm the hearts of the fans, that will be attempted from a team by team basis. The Wild will unveil many soon after a schedule is released.
Today at Xcel Energy Center, captain Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley arrived to join the fray. Zenon Konopka was scheduled to arrive Wednesday and should be on the ice Thursday. So should Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who didn’t skate Wednesday.
The first line of Koivu, Heatley and Zach Parise looked real good, and you can read more about that in Thursday’s newspaper or on Wednesday night.

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Russo: As of now, Wild opens at home Jan. 19 against Colorado