In the end, Fehr 'a great leader' for NHLPA

In the end, Fehr 'a great leader' for NHLPA
January 7, 2013, 10:42 pm
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The players were as restless as anyone during the NHL lockout. Obviously they wanted to play, not spend nearly four months just skating around in circles. But when the NHLPA hired Donald Fehr as their executive director, it was because they wanted to become a stronger union and get a fair deal.
And players say he did that.
It took a while, longer than anyone would have liked, but when the NHL and NHLPA agreed on a framework for their new collective bargaining agreement early Sunday, the players came away happy with the job Fehr has done.
Its tough when youre a player; youre frustrated, you want to play. Overall, I think he did an incredible job for us, Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. We werent going to get something done until people wanted it to get done, I felt, and it finally came to that time. (Fehr) guided us well and I think we got a deal thats fair, and thats what we wanted from the beginning. We didnt want more than anyone else. We just wanted something that was fair. Finally we got that.
Marian Hossa, who said he always believed hockey would resume at some point this season, concurred.
We got a great guy, a great leader. Its huge for the future of the union and the players to have a guy like that in charge, Hossa said. " He did an excellent job. Thanks to him and the guys who were involved in the negotiations."
All players talked about during the lockout was how united they were behind Fehr. They trusted him, listened to him and appreciated how much he listened to them and believed Fehr was the man to solidify their union.
Apparently he did. Just look at those two votes for the disclaimer of interest near the end of the lockout: both were nearly unanimous in favor of it.
So much for that fractured union.
Fehrs presence was especially calming for those players participating in marathon negotiations down the stretch. There were so many topics, so many critical issues at such a critical time.
You had that optimism, but you knew there were some critical issues that could blow it up and you couldnt get excited. That was the most impressive thing about Don, Jamal Mayers, who spent a lot of those final meetings in the room with Fehr, said. We all had our different focuses but he had to have the big-picture view the whole time.
The players certainly gave up their share in this deal. But they wanted a fair shake and a stronger, more united union. And they say Fehr gave them both.
Hes one of the most humble guys Ive ever met, and probably the smartest in what he retains and just his wealth of knowledge and experience, Mayers said. He listens to the players and he was able to get us the best deal possible and we saved the season. And I think over time this is going to be a deal that works out well for the players.