Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who admitted on Dennis & Callahan to helping "get rid of" former NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly, said after an informal skate Monday at Boston University that he doesn't believe Kelly could have gotten the players the deal that current NHLPA head Donald Fehr netted them this weekend.
"No," Ference said, straight-faced. "We'd be playing, I'm sure. I'm sure we wouldn't have missed as much hockey and the league would have been salivating. That's the blunt answer."
Ference, who was present for the final negotiations that led to a new collective bargaining agreement being reached, called Fehr "essential" and the "foundation of our entire union." He said that Fehr's presence as executive director strengthened the union where he felt it was weaker in the past, including when Bob Goodenow led them through the 2004-05 lockout.
"Across the whole league, one of the most impressive things when you talked to guys was that it wasn't just about keeping guys quiet -- people actually believed in what we were doing," Ference said. "That's probably the biggest change from the last lockout, or even years past in the union. You could publicly have guys on the same page, but behind closed doors you might have different opinions. This time around, it was an extremely unified group that believed in what we were doing, and that starts from the top down."
Also present at the skate by the still-technically locked-out Bruins were Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid and Gregory Campbell.
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