ST. LOUIS (AP) - The owner of the St. Louis Blues is apologizing to fans for the labor discord that shut down the sport for 113 days.
The NHL is expected to play a 48-game schedule now that a new labor agreement has been reached. The league has circulated a memo telling teams to be ready to play by Jan. 19.
Blues owner Tom Stillman says the team shares in the disappointment of fans, especially ticket holders, suite holders and sponsors.
The Blues are considered by many to be an up-and-coming contender in the Western Conference and Stillman says he is excited about the season to come.
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Owner Tom Stillman released the following statement to the fans:
"As you may know, the NHL and the Players' Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new CBA. It looks like your St. Louis Blues will soon return to the ice. As we prepare for the season opener, I want to apologize to all Blues fans, especially our season ticket holders, suite holders, and sponsors. We share in your disappointment and frustration about the lockout and the lack of Blues hockey over the past three months.
"As you can imagine, the last thing our new ownership group wanted in our first year was a lockout and no Blues hockey. Everyone in the organization -- the players, hockey management, the front office - would have preferred to start the season on time.
"Moving forward, our aim is to make up for lost time and to earn your continued support. As I said last May, we are firmly committed to the Blues and to ensuring the franchise's long-term success here in St. Louis.
"With the lockout behind us, we reaffirm that commitment. But we know we cannot succeed without you, and we hope you will continue to support us at this critical time. As you know, we have an exciting season ahead of us. The Blues, led by GM of the Year Doug Armstrong and Coach of the Year Ken Hitchcock, are coming off one of the best campaigns in franchise history and are widely viewed as one of the top teams in the NHL.
"The compressed season will be intensely competitive, with each game crucial in the race for the playoffs. We can't wait to get started, and we sincerely hope you will be there with us. Once again, I am sorry for the delay in starting the season.
"Thank you for your patience and support during the last few months. We hope to see you at a Blues game soon.