July 22, 2005
Dear Friend of Hockey,
This is a letter I had hoped to be able to send you several months ago. I am certain it is one you had hoped to be able to read long before today, and I will never be able to express adequately my appreciation -- along with that of the entire National Hockey League -- for the patience you have shown through the most difficult period in our history.
While it may be said that the greatness of hockey, and the NHL, is best measured by the character and tenaciousness of its players, I would add that the greatness of our game is also reflected by the character and tenaciousness of you, our devoted fans. I thank you all for that passionate support and I apologize to all of you, on behalf of everyone involved, for testing that support as severely as we did.
The negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was an extremely complex undertaking and it took a painfully long time to complete. I promise you it did not take one second longer than absolutely necessary; and while it required a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people -- including you -- the result is that a great game will be even better upon our return.
As we move forward now in partnership with our players, we move equally, to a new era of exceptional entertainment, in partnership with you. We will come back with new rules, with a new spirit of cooperation and with a renewed sense of excitement as the best athletes in the world display their skills for the best fans in the world and strive to win the best trophy in the world, the Stanley Cup.
Over the past year, there has been entirely too much talk about the business of hockey and entirely too little talk about the joys of hockey. At last, it's time, once again, to have fun -- the kind of fun only hockey can offer. I cannot wait to get back to the rink and I very much look forward to seeing you there.
Let's get ready to drop the puck!