The NHL Players' Association voted ratify the proposed collective bargaining agreeement with the National Hockey League on Thursday, clearing the way for the league to return to the ice this fall.
The league's Board of Governors will vote on acceptance of the deal on Friday. With the proposal seeming to be extremely owner-friendly, it is highly unlikely that it won't be ratified.
The results of the NHLPA's vote were announced at a joint NHL-NHLPA press conference, where league commissioner Gary Bettman referred to the deal as an "important catalyst in bringing us forward."
NHLPA chief executive Bob Goodenow, who opposed most of the proposed deal but negotiated it on behalf of the players anyway, said that time would tell what view would be taken on the CBA.
"I think history will show that this was an inflection point and a launching pad for all aspects of the game," he said.
It was clear that many players were unhappy with the deal, as well, but were willing to accept it if it meant getting back to playing the game.
"It's time to move forward. We can't drag our feet any longer," said former Detroit Red Wing Keith Primeau, now of the Philadelphia Flyers. "More than anything, guys just want to return to playing."
Once the owners have gone through the formality of a vote on the deal, the league will conduct a draft lottery to determine the order of the NHL Entry Draft, to be conducted in Ottawa on July 30. The results of the lottery will be announced at a press conference at 4:00 PM EDT.
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