NHL commissioner Gary Bettman secured unanimous ownership support for the pending labor deal, then apologized to everyone hurt by the long lockout and said he isn't going anywhere.
The league's board of governors met in New York on Wednesday and approved the agreement that was reached Sunday on the 113th day of the lockout.
Bettman felt the full brunt of anger, especially from fans, during the four-month dispute. But he was contrite in announcing the latest step by the owners.
"Most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am 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."
In his nearly 20 years as commissioner, Bettman has presided over three lockouts. One caused the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, another led to a 48-game season in 1995 -- much like is expected for this season. But Bettman was quick to call any speculation he might consider stepping down as "unfounded."
"I am looking forward to continuing to grow this game, both on and off the ice, as we have over the last 20 years," he said.
Players are expected
The agreement is for 10 years, but either side can opt out after eight. The previous deal was in effect for seven seasons.
The NHL won't release the new schedule until the players ratify the deal.
ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd will return to Clemson for his senior season. The junior quarterback set school records this past season with 3,896 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. He also ran for 514 yards and 10 TDs. Boyd was told by NFL draft advisers he'd go anywhere from the second to the fourth rounds.
John Isner withdrew from the Australian Open with bone bruising in his right knee, leaving No. 22 Sam Querrey as the highest-ranked U.S. man at the Grand Slam event that begins Monday in Melbourne. Isner is ranked No. 14.