Sports Extra

NHL

Owners unanimously approve new bargaining agreement

NEW YORK – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman secured unanimous ownership support for the pending labor deal, then apologized to everyone hurt by the long lockout and said he isn’t going anywhere.

The league’s board of governors met in a Manhattan hotel Wednesday and overwhelmingly approved the agreement that was reached early Sunday on the 113th day of the lockout.

Bettman felt the full brunt of anger, especially from fans, during the four-month dispute that kept hockey off the ice. But he was contrite in announcing the latest step by the owners. He said he wants to look forward and not back at the mess created by the work stoppage.

“Most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I am sorry,” Bettman said. “I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.”

As season approaches, Toronto fires GM Burke

TORONTO – Brian Burke’s brash and outspoken style wasn’t a good fit for the new corporate owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs fired their general manager Wednesday with the NHL season set to resume this month following a tentative settlement ending the lockout.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Tom Anselmi said at a news conference that longtime Burke assistant David Nonis will fill the job. Burke will stay as a senior adviser.

Anselmi acknowledged that four years without a playoff berth factored into the decision. But ultimately, he added, ownership wanted a different look at the top.

Canada’s largest telecommunication companies, Rogers Communications and BCE Inc., took control of the Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA’s Toronto Raptors after the 1.3 billion deal closed in August.

Skiing

Vonn set to make her return to the slopes today

ST. ANTON, Austria – Lindsey Vonn is set to make her return at World Cup downhill training in Austria today after an absence of more than three weeks because of an intestinal illness.

The four-time overall champion is among the 65 racers who appear on the start list for training that was released by governing body FIS late Wednesday.

Vonn is likely to start in both speed events this weekend – the downhill race Saturday and a super-G the following day.

U.S. women’s head coach Alex Hoedlmoser says Vonn will race “if nothing extraordinary happens.”

Vonn has missed six races during her 24-day break and trails overall World Cup leader Tina Maze of Slovenia by 725 points with 19 races left.

Baseball

Rare baseball card could fetch up to six figures

PORTLAND, Maine – Six-figure bids are expected when an auction house sells a rare 148-year-old baseball card that was discovered at a yard sale in rural Maine, the auction house manager said Wednesday.

A man found the card by chance in a photo album he bought while antique picking in the small town of Baileyville on the Canadian border, said Troy Thibodeau of Saco River Auction Co. in Biddeford.

It’s not the same as a modern baseball card, which became commonplace beginning in the 1880s. Instead, it’s an original photograph from 1865 of the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club mounted on a card. The card shows nine players gathered around their manager.

Thibodeau said he’s aware of only two such cards in existence, the other at the Library of Congress. Putting a dollar-figure value on it is difficult, he said, but he expects it to fetch at least $100,000 at the Feb. 6 auction.

The priciest baseball card ever is a 1909 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

Associated Press