NHL uses full-page ad in newspapers to apologize to fans (PHOTO)

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Anyone that’s been in a long-term relationship understands that profuse apology is inseparable from seismic, unending guilt.

By our count, the NHL is now on its third major apology to fans for the lockout: Commissioner Gary Bettman's "I'm sorry" speech on Jan. 9; various pleas of contrition (and kickbacks to fans) from the 30 teams; and now, a full-page advertisement in major newspapers in every NHL market and national publications in the U.S. and Canada dropping Thursday and Friday:

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(P.S.S. You have eight years until the opt-out is available. Enjoy it while you can.)

"2012-13 season?" Pardon? There is no 2012 part of this season. We spent the 2012 part of this season talking about revenue sharing and contract terms and PR battles. There are no awards for those to be given out in Las Vegas. Unless Frank Luntz is receiving one for all of his hard work in helping to craft this carefully constructed apology.

These apologies likely won't be the last efforts to get back in the good graces of fans. Even after the puck drops for real on Saturday, players, teams and the league will need to continue to repair their relationship with the fans. Outreach to the community will be vital because after a second lockout in eight years, there are still plenty of hard feelings.

Though, judging by the attendances at some training camps this week, not too hard.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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