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

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

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.

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.