Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CBA now a done deal: We have NHL liftoff

Owners and players officially end lockout

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IT lasted for 113 days, most of them frustrating, and then carried on with nearly another full week of limbo before the NHL and NHLPA were able to officially put the lockout behind them.

The green light on the 2013 NHL season came mid-evening Saturday when the league and its players union put ink to paper on a memorandum of understanding. They had agreed on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement in the wee hours of last Sunday morning.

The MOU was reportedly a hefty legal document several hundreds of pages long that will provide the platform for the league's restart.

The Jets' schedule was announced late Saturday night.

A version of it appeared on Twitter on Friday but was not correct, only a draft.

A 48-game season opens Saturday, including an afternoon contest featuring the Ottawa Senators at the MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets at 2 p.m.

Winnipeg's first road game is one week from Monday, an afternoon game in Boston.

The NHL's owners endorsed the labour agreement last Wednesday, 30-0.

The players began voting on it late Thursday and wrapped up the electronic balloting Saturday morning. The NHLPA tally was 667 yes, 12 no, giving it a 98.2 per cent approval among those who voted. Eighty-four players among the NHLPA's 763 did not vote.

"I don't think there are any surprises," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "You saw by the amount of guys headed back to their cities and getting ready to play that most guys were going to be in favour of ratifying it.

"I think it was just more of a formality, making sure everything was good, that everything that was agreed upon was in the agreement."

Most teams, including the Jets, have been holding informal practices or on-ice workouts, where the players run matters by themselves or with fitness trainers but without their real NHL coaching staffs.

Today will be the first day NHL coaches are permitted to do 100 per cent of the jobs with their teams.

"Everyone's excited to get playing now and focusing on getting this game back where it needs to be," Ladd said.

The Jets and the NHL confirmed that Winnipeg's Southeast Division games will include five each against Washington and Florida and four each against Tampa Bay and Carolina.

The Capitals have three games of their five vs. the Jets in Winnipeg -- including a concession by the NHL to allow a double-header here March 21 and 22 -- while the Jets have three of five at Florida.

That's 18 games, and the other 30 are made up by playing each of the other Eastern Conference teams three times apiece.

Among those opponents, the Jets drew two home games and one road game against Boston, the Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

The season will end April 27 (April 25 for the Jets) and the Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 30. The league's trade deadline is expected to fall on April 3.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2013 B3

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