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updated: 1/7/2013 8:37 PM

Hawks' Mayers lauds Fehr for 'good deal for players'

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  • Donald Fehr

    Donald Fehr


So which side won the NHL lockout?

Jamal Mayers thinks it's going to take a few years to know the answer to that question despite what certain people believe.

"They must be able to see into the future," said the veteran Blackhawks winger who was one of the players involved in Saturday's marathon 16-hour bargaining session in New York.

"I'd like them to buy me a lottery ticket, whoever is saying that. The same things were said in 2004, but time will tell."

Many thought the owners won in 2004-05 when they got a salary cap after scrapping the season, but that deal also turned out to be a good one for the players.

Mayers had a front-row seat in Saturday's marathon session and came away even more impressed with union executive director Donald Fehr.

The players hired the hard-nosed Fehr for this battle and weren't disappointed.

"There were some things that both sides gave on, but I think overall it's a good deal for the players," Mayers said. "There's no denying we made a lot of concessions and gave up $2 billion, and it could be $3 billion over the course of the agreement.

"The one thing we did get out of this was the pension and having it be a defined benefit plan. The young guys might not appreciate that now, but in time, looking back, it's something that will definitely be in our favor."

Mayers credited Fehr with saving the season.

"He kept his cool the entire time and was able to get players the best deal possible and save the season," Mayers said. "He's been doing this for 30 years so there's no question we just leaned on him and were thankful he was there.

"We made concession in everything. If there's anything that got better from the last agreement, it's definitely not monetary."

Mayers couldn't say enough about how Fehr brought home the deal.

"You couldn't allow yourself to get excited," Mayers said. "That was probably the most impressive thing about Don. He had to keep everyone focused and have the big picture view the whole time. To realize how everything inter-related was pretty amazing."

Now we shall see if the fans come back.

"That's a question that will probably be answered over time," said former Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell, who was still skating with his ex-teammates on Monday.

"It's hurt the game, but for Chicago fans, I can't see the building being empty. I'm sure it will be packed to the rafters."

After three lockouts, including one lost season, Campbell realizes the fans can't take too much more from the NHL.

"We got a deal that's fair and that's all we wanted from the beginning, but these work stoppages have to stop," said Campbell, who then took one last shot at the league. "There was no need for this to happen this year.

"The tone was set right from the get-go and it was disappointing. There has got to be some change. I'm not saying the people at the top have to change, but they need to change the way they kind of do things, and that go for our side as well."

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