Ference lauds "real leadership" in NHLPA


Ference lauds "real leadership" in NHLPA

With the new NHL CBA expected to pass with flying colors on Saturday morning after all of the votes are tabulated, a signed memorandum of understanding should be quick to follow. That will usher in the opening of NHL training camps all across North America to be followed by the beginning of the 2013 NHL regular season a week later.

Apologies have flooded in from NHL owners and players alike along with the rare personal message of regret from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, but there is much less regret coming from the players side of the aisle.

The NHL players were locked out from playing, after all, and received the best deal possible in January after listening to exactly what NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr predicted would happen. Thats why Bettman made several references to the strength of the union in announcing that the Board of Governors had passed a unanimous vote approving the CBA.

Without a strong union and involvement from the players youre not going to have guaranteed contracts, youre not going to have pensions and youre not going to have any of the benefits they currently have. Its essential for the players to have all those things, said Ference.

Ive been involved with the union for a number of years and every conference call seeing the ins and outs. Its one thing to give your opinions on calls and its something else to being there in the room when its being discussed.

Its perhaps a little extra justification for a guy like Ference, who was part of an influential group of NHLPA members that pushed Paul Kelly out of the door as Executive Director. The players basically begged Fehr to then come take over the players union as they sensed a battle would be on their hands, and Ference joined the player chorus shuddering at what might have happened over the last six months without their NHLPA leader.

I think there are a couple of writers here in Boston that were in love with our last director in Kelly and think that I am the devil, admitted Ference. But I think that is so far from the truth. We are in so far better a position now as a union. The strength Fehr, his brother and everybody from the lawyers to the economist, the unity and belief that all of the guys had in them was unbelievable.

It was really impressive to see the transformation all the way from the last lockout with different people taking over the helm and constantly being disappointed, and issues arising with each and every one of them. They were issues that really yanked the union apart. To finally have some stability and some real leadership in a guy that could come in and do a really time-crunched job of getting to know everybody and unifying everybody in a tough situation is awesome. Everybody in the locker room and everybody in the meetings will tell you the exact same thing.

What would happen if the old NHLPA leadership was still in charge?

Im sure wed already have been playing, said Ference. Im sure we wouldnt have missed as much hockey and Im sure the league would have been salivating about it. Thats the blunt answer, for sure.

Instead the players held for their best deal possible while still handing the owners many of the things they coveted in a new CBA, and they did it while still leaving room for a 48-game schedule that should win back those on-the-fence hockey fans.

That is also called the best possible resolution of the hot mess that the NHL CBA had devolved into.

Felger: Sorry, Tom, but Jimmy G. and Brissett need to play Friday

Felger: Sorry, Tom, but Jimmy G. and Brissett need to play Friday

If there's any Patriots quarterback who should be getting meaningful time other than Jimmy Garoppolo on Friday in Carolina, it's not Tom Brady. It's Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett, obviously, will be the Patriots backup the first four games of the year, and the team has yet to go through the annual preseason exercise of subjecting him to the situation under which he's most likely to see time during the regular season. Typically, Bill Belichick will yank the starting QB out of the first half of an exhibition game unannounced and tell the backup to throw on his helmet and get out there. Brissett has yet to go through it, and you have to figure it's coming in the next two weeks.

Other than that, Garoppolo should see all the time while the starters are on the field. He's had little success going against the opposition's starters so far this month and needs every rep he can get. He needs to go through the routine of starting a prime-time game on the road, which will be the case Sept. 11 in Arizona.

Where does that leave Tom Brady? Stewing, probably. It's clear he wants to play. It's clear he wasn't happy missing last Thursday against Chicago and is pining for work Friday. If you were wondering how Brady would feel about losing time in training camp to Garoppolo as the Pats got ready for the regular season, you probably have your answer. He's not a fan.

There is a case to be made that the team and Belichick, in particular, owes Brady some love. Deflategate was dropped in Brady's lap from the start, and while the coach skated, the quarterback's sentence has finally become a reality. The Pats should want to make Brady happy. He deserves the respect.

But, ultimately, we ask the fallback Patriots question: What's best for the team? The answer isn't even close. Garoppolo deserves every snap, save for that potential emergency exercise with Brissett.

As for Brady's feelings? He'll get over it.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz week days, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. Watch the simulcast daily on CSN.

Draw with Earthquakes extends Revolution's winless streak


Draw with Earthquakes extends Revolution's winless streak

SAN JOSE, Calif. - David Bingham had his sixth shutout of the season and the San Jose Earthquakes tied New England 0-0 on Wednesday night, extending the Revolution's winless streak to five games.

Bingham, who was tied for second in MLS soccer with 12 shutouts last season, had three saves - including a stop on Diego Fagundez's shot in the 86th minute.

The Revolution haven't scored since a 3-1 victory over Chicago on Aug. 9, a stretch of more than 270 minutes.

New England (6-11-8) had beaten San Jose three straight times.

San Jose (7-7-10) has just one loss in its last seven matches.