Andrew Ference has always been a strong voice when it comes to NHLPA issues, and things concerning players in the NHL workplace. Because of his passion, the Bruins defenseman has found himself in the middle of some hot button events and conversations over the last few years. But it also means Ference is a welcomed players voice of reason when it comes to things like the NHL lockout.
So its a very good thing the 33-year-old Ference has been present in New York City for the last two days of face-to-face negotiations with the NHL as part of the NHLPAs negotiating committee. Ference was also present for discussions at the very beginning of the lockout in September, but had been in the Czech Republic playing hockey for the bulk of the last three months.
Ferences stint in Europe ended right around Christmas, and the Bs defenseman has been back on the East Coast for the last week. He even skated with the Noble and Greenough hockey team several days ago according to his twitter account, and took the short commute to New York City for a pivotal round of CBA negotiations. Joining Ference among the NHL players at the negotiating table are: Craig Adams, Brad Boyes, Chris Campoli, Mathieu Darche, Rich DiPietro, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Jamal Mayers, George Parros, Marty St. Louis and Kevin Westgarth.
Thats a nice mix of superstars, blue collar players and veterans that have the respect of the entire NHLPA membership. NHLPA and NHL officials are meeting for a second straight day after trading CBA offers prior to a midnight deadline for the players association to decide if theyre willing to go through with a disclaimer of interest to potentially dissolve the union. That would potentially lead to the players filing anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL, and thats a path that neither side really wants to walk down if at all possible.
Meanwhile both sides have closed the gap on a number of issues, and are still in discussions on significant issues like pension and cap numbers in subsequent seasons before they can sign off on a workable CBA document. The two sides are getting closer and working toward a hopeful Jan. 19 start to the NHL season that would yield a 48-game shortened regular season.