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NHL players finally set to return to ice after lockout

By CNN Staff
January 13, 2013 -- Updated 0609 GMT (1409 HKT)
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media at a press conference announcing the start of the NHL season.
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media at a press conference announcing the start of the NHL season.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NHL owners locked out their players and sought a new labor deal
  • They reached a tentative deal last weekend, and it was finalized on Saturday
  • The league's teams will play a 48-game regular season

(CNN) -- Let the games begin -- finally.

The National Hockey League season will officially get under way Saturday, three months later than scheduled, the league announced on its website.

The NHL Players' Association ratified a new collective bargaining agreement Saturday, ending the lockout that began September 15. The agreement came after a sometimes acrimonious process to retool the labor deal between the players' association and the league.

During on-and-off negotiations, the NHL scrapped its preseason, all games through 2012 and threatened to scratch the entire season if a deal couldn't be reached.

But on January 6, the league and the players announced they'd struck a tentative agreement after a 16-hour negotiating session.

The league's board of governors approved the deal Wednesday, but it wasn't official until Saturday. Hours after the players ratified the agreement, leaders from the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding about the terms of the new 10-year labor deal.

Training camps begin Sunday, the NHL said.

Three games will open the truncated regular season at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Ottawa at Winnipeg and Chicago at Los Angeles, the reigning Stanley Cup champion.

The season will be 48 games, down from the standard 82. The regular season ends April 27.

The last time the league had labor strife, the entire 2004-05 season was eliminated.

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