The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approves new CBA, Commissioner Bettman apologizes for lockout, plus updates on Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Claude Giroux, Nicklas Backstrom and more.

CBC.CA: The NHL Board of Governors yesterday unanimously approved the new, tentative collective bargaining agreement. It now goes before a vote of the NHLPA. After the players approval (expected by Friday), the ratification of the CBA is expected to be official by Saturday, and training camps will open on Sunday. A 48-game schedule is slated to begin Saturday, January 19.

TSN.CA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, prior to announcing the NHL Board of Governors unanimous approval of the CBA, apologized to fans, sponsors and broadcasters for the lockout.

THE SPORTING NEWS: Jesse Spector believes Bettman and the BoG must improve labor relations with the NHLPA in order to avoid future labor disputes, as well as relations with Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, where many NHL players spent the lockout.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW: Joe Starkey reports Penguins GM Ray Shero expects the league “to issue rules-enforcement directives for the season” designed to crack down on the obstruction creeping back into the NHL game.

Shane Doan played key role in ending NHL lockout.

Shane Doan played key role in ending NHL lockout.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports sources say it was a one-hour meeting last Saturday between Bettman, NHL legal counsel Bob Batterman and Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan which led to Bettman’s willingness to listen on the final day of the lockout. Doan explained to Bettman the reason the players wanted a salary cap for ’13-’14 higher than $62.5 million was the impact that would have upon players and their families forced to move as a result of teams being forced to dump salary to become cap compliant. The league agreed to accept the PA’s proposed cap of $64.3 million.

“The Coyotes’ winger convinced Bettman and Batterman that the issue wasn’t about financial gain for the players, but on the contrary, for players would inevitably suffer greater escrow loss via a higher cap. It was, Doan said, about family life” writes Brooks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t accept Bettman’s apology. Not just because, as a fan, his pointless lockout robbed me of my favorite sports league for four months. As someone who makes his living covering the NHL, the lockout cost me several thousand dollars in revenue which I’ll never get back, forcing me to drain my savings to off-set the difference, placing unnecessary and unwanted stress upon my household. No, I don’t intend to take legal action against the league, as that would be pointless, and cost me more financially than what I lost. 

If Bettman and the NHL owners want to make it up to me and other NHL fans, they should build a better working relationship with the NHLPA to reduce the labor strife between the two sides, which in turn could prevent future work stoppages. Sadly, however, I don’t see that happening. Therefore, I intend on building up a considerably stronger contingency fund in anticipation of another lockout by Year Eight of this upcoming CBA.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: James Mirtle explains how the NHL’s new salary trading system works.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brian Burke may no longer be GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but this system allowing teams to trade cap space has Burke’s fingerprints all over it.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports NHL agents are “scurrying” to find loopholes in the new NHL CBA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agents won’t be the only ones. General managers and their “capologists” will also be poking and prodding the CBA for loopholes to exploit for their own benefit.

CSNPHILLY.COM: Claude Giroux is expected to become the new captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, perhaps as early as this weekend.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk will be playing in the KHL All-Star Game on January 13 with the Red Wings blessing. Datsyuk will return to the Wings as soon as that game is completed.

NEW YORK POST: Ilya Kovalchuk is also expected to participate in the KHL All-Star Game, then rejoin the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not everyone selected for that game will be playing. Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin has already returned to North America, as had Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.

STARTRIBUNE.COM; The Minnesota Wild’s likely new first line of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Zach Parise skated together for the first time yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All eyes will be upon Parise’s performance with his new club this season. He and defenseman Ryan Suter inked identical 13-year, $98 million contracts with the Wild last summer.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will be seeing a specialist regarding a neck injury suffered during a recent KHL game. It’s feared Backstrom may have suffered another concussion, and his status is uncertain for the Capitals season opener next weekend.