NEW YORK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- NHL owners Wednesday ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with players as Commissioner Gary Bettman apologized to fans for a 113-day player lockout.
Bettman told reporters the league's owners unanimously approved the 10-year deal, which reduces the players' share of total hockey revenue, sets a $64 million per-club salary cap and limits contract lengths.
NHL players need to approve the agreement before the teams can take to the ice Jan. 19 for a 48-game season. The vote is set to take place electronically Friday and Saturday, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.
Bettman issued an apology to incensed fans, many of whom blame him for the work stoppage.
"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.
"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."