Andrew Ference wasted no time tweeting out the news that the NHL owners and NHLPA had come to terms on a deal Sunday morning. He, like hockey fans everywhere, can’t way to get back to work.
Ference dropped by WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan on Monday, and he discussed the lengthy labor negotiations that culminated in a deal that, according to the Bruins defenseman, was “all give” from the players’ side.
“Well, if you look at the CBAs, the only thing better is the pension. And you get your own room on the road at a little younger age. In terms of winning, that’s it,” Ference said. “In today’s world, everybody understood it’s concessionary bargaining. You look at the other sports leagues and what’s happened to them, you could say that there’s certain aspects that we did better in compared to those guys. But compared to the old world that we played under, it was all give. That was the only possible way to play hockey, to have hockey, in our view, to save the season, and I think save the sport to a certain degree. That was the only way it was getting done.”
For months, negotiations between the two sides were filled with optimism and pessimism, depending on who you talked to. But in the end, we’ll have hockey, which is really all that matters. One man who is responsible for saving the season is NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, who Ference had plenty of praise for on Monday.
“It was the smartest move we’ve ever done. Without a doubt,” Ference said of bringing in Fehr, who has a reputation as a shrewd negotiator. “Every player that went to the meetings and was involved, every staff member would say the same thing a thousand times over. Obviously I’m biased, because I helped get rid of the last guy. But I couldn’t imagine where we’d be if we didn’t make that change and we didn’t have Don Fehr. Make no bones about, it’s a tough, tough negotiating partner on the other side. To have the experience not only of Fehr but also of the people surrounding him — the economists, his brother, the other labor lawyers that have been in those rooms, whether it’s with sports unions or auto workers or hotel workers — just the experience of closing deals, of negotiating, was priceless.”
Ference is now focused on getting the Bruins back to the postseason, something that would most certainly bring happiness to those Boston fans who have had to endure a rather depressing few months of no hockey.