Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who was in the negotiating room in New York when the lockout was settled Sunday, joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the long-awaited end to the work stoppage.
Ference said he's been going through a range of emotions since the deal was reached.
Said Ference: "First, exhausted for sure. Last night's sleep didn't quite catch me up from this past week from New York City. But definitely relieved. In many ways, happy to be back playing, happy that the fans can actually come back and watch some hockey and can stop talking about boardroom chatter. And relieved also, because I saw how close it came I think from both sides to pulling the plug on the season. For that not to happen makes me relieved, because I can't possibly imagine what another lost year would have done to our sport."
Ference, who tweeted the news of the deal right after it happened, said the final agreement came without much fanfare.
"We used the mediator for the last few days pretty extensively," he said. "Up until the last probably six or eight volleys of proposals we actually used smaller groups -- a couple of players, like George Parros and Shane Doan went in and were taking the last couple final proposals. We pushed pretty hard around a few items, and [the owners' representatives] just kind of walked back in the room with smiles on their faces and said that they had accepted the last ones. So, it was pretty much just that. They made an announcement and everybody kind of looked at each other for a couple of seconds and that was it. That was that. We shook hands afterwards, though. We went over there and everyone said, 'Thank God this is over. Let's get back to the real thing.' "
Asked what the players achieved in the negotiations, Ference said it wasn't much.
"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," he 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."
Added Ference: "I think everybody was educated enough to see the position that we're in, and to see the position that the league is in. You can sit there and paint a perfect picture for yourself of what a great CBA looks like. But at the end of the day, you have to realize that on their side, they're the owners, they're running the sport, they're running their business. They have a lot of leverage as well. It's like you can just say we want this, this and this. It just doesn't work that way unless you want to go down the path -- we coined it the nuclear option -- and decertify and go through the courts and what-not. The mess you create then in some players' eyes was worth it. But in a lot of guys' eyes you destroy the sport in the process."
Ference said there wasn't one major concession by the players, because they had that during the last lockout when they gave in to a salary cap.
"The system doesn't change dramatically," Ference said. "The numbers change, but … I don't know, I don't think you can point to one thing. It's not a drastically different system. It's just different numbers."
Despite his conciliatory tone, Ference said the players did well by bringing in veteran negotiator Donald Fehr.
"It was the smartest move we've ever done. Without a doubt," he said. "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 a tough, tough negotiating partner on the other side. To have the experience not only of Fehr but ask 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."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On angry reaction from fans: "We hear the fans, definitely, say, 'Just take the deal. Just start playing already.' But I think you have to realize, even up to a couple of days ago, if you just take the deal you're basically selling out a lot of young guys that don't even have a voice in their union yet. So, you're weighing those concerns and you're trying to get it done. You've got to believe us that we want to play as bad as anybody. It kills us not to be out there. That's obviously why athletes get locked out, is because it's an extremely good negotiating tactic to make people that love what they do not be able to do it.
"So, we get it. We get how everybody was mad. I guess all you can really do is not patronize them and not just say thanks and hope it's all right. I think everybody understands that we just have to go out there and put a good product out and try to make people proud, and not pretend that this wasn't awful. Everybody knows it was awful."
On what the league should do for the fans: "I don't know what they'd do. I hope there's people that are smarter than me that can come up with something to really satisfy some people that were hurt. I know as players the best thing we can do, like I said, is play good hockey. No. 1, that's what people want. I think they would rather have guys playing their hearts out than a gift."
On the proposed shortened season: "It will be crazy, definitely. It's just a concentration of games, and we're staying out East the whole time, so you're always playing against your rivals, which makes it great. And talking to guys that went through it the last shortened season guys like Cam [Neely] and some of the other players that were playing back then, they said it was awesome. As far as the work stoppage, it was just as awful and all those things. But once you got into the season they said it was an absolute sprint and a bit chaotic. You could definitely see that this time, with some guys playing in Europe and some guys just practicing and some guys probably not taking great care of themselves. It will be chaos, that first little bit of games."
On goalie Tim Thomas, who has said he is taking a sabbatical from the sport this season: "I don't think anybody expects him back."
In the latest edition of the "It Is What It Is" podcast, Chris Price and CSNNE's Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers.
Mike Florio joined the program to discuss the Jets decision to release Tim Tebow, he said the situation is as disaster all around for the Jets and that the problems begins with owner Woody Johnson. Mike also said that he was disappointed with the Pats moving back in the first round.
One of the hardest working men in the biz, Mike Petraglia aka "Trags", sits down with Butch Stearns live in Foxborough to help break down all the latest Pats moves. He discusses his reaction to the trade in Round 1 and the guys those picks produced. Also, the boys talk about the decent trade the Pats made in acquiring LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder.
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the trade rumors swirling around Paul Pierce, KG, Doc Rivers and the Celtics. She also discusses the future of the Celtics head coach.
Stephen A. joined the program to discuss the trade rumors he has reported regarding a possible trade including Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Stephen A. also told the guys that he has heard that Danny and Doc may be tiring of working together.
Joe Castiglione talked with John Lackey after he picked up the W against the Twins. Lackey threw seven innings, and retired the 1st twelve batters of the game.
Dave O'Brien talked to John Farrell before the end of the Twins series. The Sox skipper said that Big Papi's success is no surprise given his work ethic.
John Farrell postgame press conference
Dale and DJ roll on with their puck talk and chat some more about the goalie matchup in this series, as well as the lack of a quality power play for both of these teams. In fact, DJ says the Rangers are even worse on the PP than the B’s! The guys also get into the resurgence of Milan Lucic and his deceptive speed and grit. Dale and DJ talk about the similar styles of play for these teams and look forward to Game 2.
Dale and DJ get into the two coaches and their polar opposite styles and demeanor. Both teams play a similar style, but the coaches certainly convey their messages in a different way. Dale isn't buying the Tortorella hype and thinks he's a little overrated. DJ thinks he's a good coach, but isn't a fan of anti-media stance. The guys also talk about Jagr and how he has not lived up to the hype. They weren't expecting him to light it up or be the savior, but DJ says he wasn't prepared for just how slow the aging veteran is. Another big topic for B's fans this season is the play of Tyler Seguin and why he has yet to become the superstar everyone anticipates he will be. This leads to Claude Julien's style and if he does actually have something against the younger players. That Iginla trade shows its ugly head again as well.
WEEI.com's DJ Bean joins Dale in studio for Sports Sunday to discuss the Bruins playoff run. Game 2 is later today and the guys discuss the results of the first game of the series. They get into the construction of the lines for the B's and if they would make any changes. DJ has a few ideas for the lines today. The boys also discuss the two goalies - Tuukka vs Henrik Lundqvist and wonder why people automatically think the Rangers have the edge at goalie. Finally, they get into the legacy and the decisions of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli.
Shawn joined the program to discuss another overtime win for the Bruins. When asked about Game 7 against Toronto, Thornton said that he would like to keep his specific comments in the dressing room private, but acknowledged that he encouraged Tyler Seguin to up his play and it paid off in overtime.
Barry joined the guys to help breakdown the Bruins overtime win last night in game one. Barry said that he has rarely seen a team dominate as much as the Bruins yet be forced to an overtime.
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.
Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski has emerged as one of the young stars of the team and he joins Mut and Tom Caron to discuss his role on the team, why he's confident, and the trade that almost sent him to Calgary.
Millar joins the show to discuss the recent Sox slide, Jacoby Ellsbury's lack of power, and hitting in the big leagues.
Andy Brickley joins the show to discuss the Bruins Game 1 win over the Rangers, the play of the three young Bruins defensemen, and the fatigue Jagr has shown on the ice.
We talk all things game one with Jack Edwards of NESN, and get to hear a little from Jack's Finnish protege as well.
We tackle four topics we haven't yet touched upon today.. Joe Thornton and disappointing former Boston athletes, parking in Boston, buying jersey numbers and more...
We talk about the report that Rob Gronkowski may now be a candidate for back surgery with a disc problem. Is Gronk just an injury prone guy? Or is he not rehabbing proberly? Can the Pats build an offense around a guy who is so inconsistently on the field? We discuss.
The Bruins have almost finished raking the Leafs, the Red Sox struggle from the mound, Miami Heat fans show their level of class.
Daily Planet Wednesday May 8th
Today on the Daily Planet the Bruins take a 2-1 series lead, the Red Sox get a run-off win, and we hear about cannibals and bible thieves.
Sounds like a prostate exam to me!
Damn New Yorkers!
Sauce Man stylings!
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Jeff Bauman, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, joined the show to give the guys an update of his condition and a first-hand account of that terrible day. Jeff told the guys how he wrote the description of the bomber as soon as he could. Mr. Bauman added that he is aided every day with the knowledge that he is alive and the terrorist that detonated the bomb is dead.More from this show
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.More from this show
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.More from this show