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NHL players ratify labor deal

Associated Press

TORONTO – NHL players overwhelmingly approved a labor deal with the league Thursday, virtually ending the lockout that canceled last season.

The league’s board of governors will hold a ratification vote today during a meeting in New York, but that ballot is really just a formality. After that, the NHL will be back in business.

“I am optimistic that we will bring this promptly to a successful conclusion so that we can go together and get this game — and the attention on this game — back where it belongs: on the ice,” commissioner Gary Bettman said.

“Almost 90 percent of the players” voted in favor of the six-year deal that includes a salary cap, union head and NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow said at a news conference.

“We look forward to starting fresh with this new agreement,” Goodenow said. “We’re fully committed to the new deal and we anticipate great success for the game as we go forward.”

Many players are unhappy that a full season was lost and the union ended up accepting a salary cap anyway. They came to Toronto to find out why, and look forward.

“It’s always easy after the fact,” union president Trevor Linden said. “I think that we really felt our position was a good one and made sense from a league standpoint.”

Once the deal passes, there will be no remaining obstacles in this labor disagreement.

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