SBD/January 7, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL Open For Business: Players React, Looking To Mend Fences With Fans

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Ference is credited as being the first person to publicly indicate the lockout had ended
Bruins D Andrew Ference was “his usual articulate self in breaking down the process that he went through” as a participant in NHL labor negotiations, according to Steve Conroy of the BOSTON HERALD. Ference said, “The amount of detail and the amount of tedious back-and-forth that happens is more than I ever expected. ... Obviously it was a high-stress situation for both sides, especially for the players who didn’t want to sell out the guys with a bad deal but also didn’t want to do any more damage to the game. It was a pretty delicate balance” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/7). Sharks D Dan Boyle “suggested that the 2013-14 salary cap -- as the player share of hockey revenue drops from 57 percent to 50 percent -- might have been the final hurdle.” The sides reportedly agreed to $64.3M after the league "wanted that figure" set at $60M. Boyle said of the proposed $60M cap, “Although that may seem like small numbers, that's a lot of jobs and a lot of unnecessary player movement. I think that was a huge issue that got settled. Hopefully, not too many players are hurt by that” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/7).

MIXED EMOTIONS: A number of players are weighing in on the deal. Red Wings RW Danny Cleary: "I really feel that we got a good, fair and honest deal. I hope both sides are happy” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/7). Blue Jackets D Adrian Aucoin: “I guess we’re satisfied with it is the best I can say. There are a lot of what-ifs. There are a lot of numbers in there that are going to affect them but not us, which is frustrating. We had to fight for every inch. Then again, we thought we got killed on the last CBA, and it worked out pretty well for us” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/7). Capitals RW Troy Brouwer said of the lockout, “In the big scheme of things it was rather senseless” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/7). Penguins RW Craig Adams said, “It feels like this could have been done a long time ago, but this process takes on a life of its own” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/7). Flyers LW Jody Shelley: “It’s something we’re not proud that we went through, but hopefully it served its purpose and everyone in hockey, everyone in the hockey world, especially the fans, can benefit from it.” Free agent RW Mike Knuble said, “It just got off on the wrong foot way back in August and that first offer. It sort of snowballed from there and became pretty contentious for a long time. Ultimately when [NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman] put out the drop-dead date, if there was any truth to a drop-dead date, it sure lit a fire under everybody” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/7).

HOPING FANS RETURN: Predators D Hal Gill: “It’s not fair what we’ve done to the fans. I’m upset; I can only imagine what they’re going through. But that being said, it’s a necessary part of the business. It’s over with" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/7). Bruins RW Shawn Thornton when asked what he thinks of team Owner and NHL BOG Chair Jeremy Jacobs, who had a large role in the owners' negotiating strategy, said, “Can't get emotional. It's a business. The business side of the game sucks and I'm happy to be playing again.” Thornton added, “Fans will be pissed and I don't blame them" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 1/6). The Caps' Brouwer added, “For the fans that got upset and got fed up, we understand. It was a long process that frustrated a lot of us, but to the ones that waited patiently, thank you for waiting and staying true to us” (WASHINGTON POST, 1/7). Sabres G Ryan Miller said, “I know an apology doesn’t make it all better, but it’s a place to start. I’m sorry and I hope that fans will forgive us for the role we played in this lockout” (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/7).

REPAIRING THE DAMAGE: Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews said, “As players we need to keep showing our fans we care. We might have a long road ahead of us there” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/7). Canucks LW Daniel Sedin: “A lot of damage has been done. We all know how much people in Canada love hockey. I think those fans will come back because they love the game, although I don't want to sound like I'm taking that for granted. But some of the smaller markets in the U.S., it's going to be tougher. Fans there have probably gone on to other sports and I think it may take a while to get them back” (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/7). Stars LW Brenden Morrow said, “I’m scared to death that we’re going to go out there and it’s going to be an empty arena, and I’ll fully understand if it is. ... I think just getting out there and playing and working hard and doing your best, that can go a long way to mend fences” (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/6). Predators G Chris Mason said, “You’re almost embarrassed and apologetic.” Predators D Shea Weber said, “Hopefully both sides didn’t hurt too many fans. … We hope they’re going to come back and support us” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 1/7).

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