Haggerty: The NHL lockout winner may just surprise you

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Haggerty: The NHL lockout winner may just surprise you

Inevitably any lockout or labor situation in pro sports comes down to winners and losers.

The term winner or loser can be a relative term, of course. In the NHL lockout that mercifully came to an end at 4:40 a.m. on Sunday morning at a hotel ballroom in New York City, the league was always going to be the overwhelming victor.

The NHL players accepted the fact their share of Hockey Related Revenue was always going to get slashed from 57 percent to a more fair-sounding 5050 split in the new CBA just as had gone down in NBA and NFL negotiations before them. The NHL owners saw what stone cold lockouts had accomplished in the other major pro sports, and they were determined to do the same in their league.

Amazingly the players understood this and essentially engaged in concession bargaining where they knew conditions would get worse in the new CBA.

Im pretty proud of the resolve that we showed as players, said Shawn Thornton. There were no cracks within the NHLPA union.

They went from having no term limits for personal contracts and no limits to variances on year-to-year salaries to seven-year contract limits and a 35 percent variance maximum on year-to-year salary figures.

The only victories the players ended hanging their collective hats on were a pension plan funded by the owners and individual hotel rooms for all NHL veterans that have graduated past their entry-level contract. The players also have an appeal process when theyre suspended for six or more games, but thats a benefit most players will never utilize.

Thats it.

Everything else in the deal was either holding steady or giving back to the league after the NHL already achieved bloody triumph eight years ago by slapping the salary cap down on the battered NHLPA. Even worse, the CBA framework accepted on Jan. 6 wasnt very different from the NHLPA counter-offer on Dec. 6 that was summarily rejected by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and sparked a 30-minute fire and brimstone speech trumpeting hills to die on.

If you look at this CBA it looks a lot like the deal we proposed on Dec. 6, but we kind of had the theatrics with Mr. Bettman blowing up in front of the microphone, said Thornton. But we need to put that behind us now. I know its a business and thats the ugly side of it.

Even so the bulk of players still felt they got the best CBA they possibly could without doing irreparable harm to the NHL they feel so very protective about. They lost somewhere in the ballpark of 800 in salaries by missing the first three plus months of the regular season, but were willing to make the sacrifice for a 10-year business contract that will net them billions of dollars over the deals lifetime.

We did the best we could without destroying the sport entirely and without selling out the kids that havent even been drafted yet but will play under this CBA, Ference said to CSNNE.com. Nobody is going to deny that its awful. The negativity directed at our sport is disheartening. It sucks. It really sucks for fans to have to go through it and hearing the posturing.

At the end of it all its just a sigh of relief that you can get back to the good parts of the game and the positive stuff. It sucks to hear negative things about a good group of guys that really do love the game, but are being locked out of the game they love. We couldnt control that. You understand the other side of it and the pressure points needed in negotiations. But we always just wanted to play.

Theres a widely held belief among the NHLPA members that the NHL always had Jan. 19 in mind as the start to the regular season while grinding the players down with a lockout labor strategy. Sources have indicated to CSNNE.com that as far back as November the NHL held a 48-game schedule beginning in mid-January locked and set in stone.

Thats got to make advertisers, sponsors and those depending on NHL games for a living feel good, doesnt it?

If the players buckled and gave in on some of the NHLs crazy player contract rights demands during their September, October or November CBA offers, then that would have been even better for Bettman and his Board of Governors. That was the fear among the NHLPA membership if former Executive Director Paul Kelly was left in charge of the CBA negotiations, and its the reason players literally begged Donald Fehr to take over their union.

Despite protests from the NHL that the deal would worsen as things got contentious, Fehrs hard bargaining style produced league offers that kept improving with make whole money, player contract rights and finally a favorable pension plan. His logical, even-keeled style got under the NHLs skin and confounded league operatives as they tried to break the unions will.

Ference was one of the NHLPA members instrumental in the leadership change from Kelly to Fehr two years ago, and without hesitation said the deal would have been worse for the players if the change hadnt been made.

Without a shred of a doubt, Fehr was a difference-maker. These things might seem simple from the outside, but when youre in that room going over the details in negotiations his experience was invaluable, said Ference. But it was also the team around him. The people he trusted and the people he brought in handled some very, very important things for us moving forward like the pension. Those things were huge.

And lets face it: we werent dealing with a very easy negotiating partner. These were some very tough negotiations. Without Don I think that a lot of guys would have been sold out for sure. We might have already been playing, but the cost to future NHL players would have been astronomical.

The NHL players knew they were going to lose the CBA battle and in many ways they were fighting for a new generation of nameless, faceless hockey players that should mean nothing to the current group that forfeited millions in paychecks. In this hockey writers book that makes the players the big winners of this NHL lockout in name if not in fact.

Rather than hoarding as much cash as possible the NHL players were doing the right thing and standing up to a bullying foe something theyve been taught to do since they were PeeWee skaters in places like Thunder Bay, Saskatoon and Kamloops.

There is something to be said for that now that a 48-game schedule and 10 years of labor peace are staring the players and league right in the face.

Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

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Bruins looking forward to getting World Cup teammates, coach back

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the World Cup of Hockey and Team Canada crowned as champions, the final few Bruins players involved in the international hockey tournament will be filtering back into regular training camp.

It was a brilliant tourney for Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, especially while forming the World Cup’s best forward line with Sidney Crosby. Marchand was one of the leading scorers and had the clutch game-winner in the decisive game.

As a line they combined for a ridiculous 25 points in six games and it was Marchand who scored a couple of the biggest goals in the biggest games against Russia and Team Europe.

“They did it all of last season for us, so I’m not shocked. They played well throughout the entire time they played there, so I’m really happy for them,” said Ryan Spooner. “It’s been kind of a weird camp. We’ve been missing a lot of guys, and to get all of those guys back is huge. They’re the leaders of the team, so to get them back is good.

“Marchand around the room is a funny guy, so he’s definitely missed. We miss them all.”

Zdeno Chara was a force for the surprising rag-tag group of players on Team Europe and led them to the best-of-three final series against Team Canada. Now that it’s over, the B’s teammates are looking forward to all three joining fellow World Cup participants Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak and David Backes at camp probably at some point next week.

“It does [feel like training camp], but it will be nice to get those guys back,” said Adam McQuaid. “They are big parts of this team. We’re looking forward to having those guys back, for sure.”

That also includes getting their coach, Claude Julien, back as well after missing his presence while he served behind the Canadian bench with Mike Babcock and Barry Trotz. He’ll be rejoining the Bruins over the next couple of days, and getting through preseason road games against Detroit and Philadelphia before making some tough decisions on cuts at main training camp.

That’s when things will officially start getting back to normal for a training camp that’s felt like something was a little missing over the first few weeks of getting ready for the season. 

Friday, Sept. 30: It's all Bruins in World Cup final

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Friday, Sept. 30: It's all Bruins in World Cup final

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while taking a nap this afternoon so I can watch the 1:30 am replay of tonight’s Bruins/Red Wings game on the NHL Network.

*Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara scored the goals at the World Cup’s decisive game on Thursday night, and No. 63 got the clutch game-winner late in the third period for Team Canada. Then he watched as linemate Sidney Crosby won the MVP for the tournament in what could be perceived, from a Boston point of view, as a largely Canadian-based hockey media fawning over Sid the Kid once again. Look, he was the tournament’s leading scorer, but last night’s heroics probably should have tipped the scales toward the B’s agitator getting the World Cup hardware.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford has Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm seeking an eight year deal from his team. That could be another contract negotiation to watch closely if you’re a Bruins fan.

*Zach Werenski, one of the D-men the Bruins were trying to trade up to get two years ago in the first round of the draft, is looking like he might be NHL-ready for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

*Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is holding out with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and just wants to get paid like the rest of his teammates.

*Marian Hossa says he still wants to play hockey when he’s 42 years old, or close to the age that countrymen Zdeno Chara is right now.

*Here are some preseason college hockey storylines with the world of NCAA hockey about to start up in force.

*A judge has ruled that the family of the late Derek Boogaard may pursue a lawsuit against the NHL over the death of their son.

*For something completely different: “Tex Ryan” takes his jokes to open mic night and I’m fairly this is Toucher and Rich skewering the Buffalo Bills head coach. And rightfully so.