Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NHL [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Ilitches 'extremely sorry,' thank fans for support

Associated Press

DETROIT -- The owners of the Detroit Red Wings apologized in full-page newspaper ads for the loss of the NHL season.

In a letter published Tuesday in the sports sections of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, Mike and Marian Ilitch said they were "extremely sorry" the Red Wings did not play because of the lockout, and thanked the fans for their loyalty.

"The decision by the league to cancel the season until a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) was agreed upon was an extremely difficult one, but necessary for the long-term success of the NHL," the Ilitches wrote. "We know how disappointing this necessary action was, and we share in your frustration."

The NHL last month became the first major sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute.