from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Brandon Sun,
At this time in 2012, the NHL season was on hold as officials from the league and Players' Association were embroiled in tense lockout negotiations. More than three months of hockey were lost before a 48-game season was salvaged.
Three years later, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Don Fehr rave about the quality of play — some of the fastest and most exciting hockey they believe the sport has ever offered. Not only is the on-ice product thriving, but the relationship between the NHL and NHLPA is stronger than it has ever been.
"There have been times in the past where some might get the feeling that the union was working against us," Bettman said during a sit-down interview in his New York office. "Don and the union, people who work with him have been extraordinarily constructive, professional, in working on things that make sense to both of us.
"It doesn't mean we're not going to have disagreements about some things. But the places where we can work together, we are, and I think that's great for the game."
Bettman and Fehr are at the forefront of the friendlier NHL-NHLPA partnership. The two men have known each other for over 30 years, Bettman said, and there's at least a high level of respect in peace time and during labour talks.
In a phone interview last week, Fehr echoed Bettman's caveat that there are philosophical disagreements between the league and the players and also the feeling that the two sides can work together now to accomplish some positive things.