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."
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We check in with the head coach of the Patriots on a Pats Monday to get his take on the win over Carolina, pre-season game number four, and the numerous cuts to the team's roster he must make in the upcoming weeks.
Danny Amendola joined the show to talk about the addition of Reggie Wayne to the receiving group, the offensive tempo in game 3 of the preseason, and who is the most stylish in the locker room.
Jay King of Masslive.com joins the show to break down the performance of the Celtics during the NBA Summer League. Then Ben and Sam discuss the exciting possibility of a Space Jam sequel.
Michael joins Ben and Sam to discuss the wild NBA Free Agency period and the upcoming Celtics season.
How long will this rebuild take? How much money will it take to keep Bae Crowder? Are Draft Picks even worth anything? With the Danny Ainge not landing any big names in the draft, and unable to lure any big names in free agency, Sam and Ben discussed if the Celtics are doomed moving forward.
We check in for our weekly visit with the interim Sox manager.
Joe Castiglione & Lou Merloni talked to the Sox outfielder, who had three hits and threw out a runner at home in the win over the Yankees.
Butch and John are talking Red Sox on the Sunday Sports Roundtable. They get into the current state of the rotation and how things have improved as of late. Joe Kelly has been on fire, but is he a trade asset? The guys discuss the starting pitchers that will be free agents this year and if any are good fits in Boston. Then they move on to the decision to let Orsillo go in favor of Dave O'Brien - Tomase has an interesting perspective on this topic.
Don Sweeney, who was hired as the Bruins general manager yesterday speaks with Dale and Holley about his new position and where the Bruins go from here.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
Schilling emailed Awful Announcing.
Florio gave us the latest on Brady vs Goodell.
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Jerod Mayo dropped by the studio to talk with Lou, Christian, and Gary about the stress that some guys go through on "cut-down" day. He also made fun of Christian for his focus on fashion, and how exaggerated he thought HBO's "Ballers" was.
Lou, Christian and Gary (and the rest of us) are all patiently waiting for Judge Berman to decide Tom Brady's future. The guys wonder.... What is he waiting for?
We discuss Bob McNair's now infamous quotes about the Patriots, and how his comments, uniformed as they may be, are probably representative of other NFL owners, and thus the reason Roger Goodell can push forward with this situation without worrying about blowback from the owners.
Dale, Michael and Jerry check in with Red Sox interim manager Torey Luvollo.
Michael Holley is back and he has thoughts on what he's missed while he was gone... including Don Orsillo and NESN.
Chris Mortensen went on a sports radio station in Arizona today and talked about his deflate gate reporting, and said that the Krafts called him to apologize over the whole situation. Only thing is there's a report tonight from D&C saying their sources at the Patriots are saying that did not happen, could Mort be, dare I say, wrong?
Chris Villani and Lenny Megs talk with Bob McGovern about the proceedings in the Tom Brady and NFL's deflate gate court case.
Villani is in for Mikey, he's talking about Chris Mortensen going on an Arizona station and talking about deflate gate and getting an apology from the Krafts.
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