There are a few NHL players whose images have changed through their roles in the NHLPA collective bargaining talks.
Ron Hainsey went from being an overpaid puck-moving defenseman to a negotiating team hatchet man. Kevin Westgarth has gone from a depth player who drops the mitts to one of the most thoughtful players involved in the CBA talks with the NHL.
The legend of Westgarth continued to grow in the New York Times with a profile of his role in the recent New York City talks — including the fact that he's George Parros's Mini-Me and his wife is sick of him talking about NHLPA pension plans.
But the most interesting part of the piece involved the dynamic in the room with the NHL owners, during that players/owners meeting last week that yielded sunshine, rainbows and then eventually Angry Gary.
Said the Los Angeles Kings tough guy:
"There are a half-dozen or more players who knew exactly where we were and could detail every aspect of where we were at," Westgarth said, referring to last week's talks. The league brought in four owners to join Jeremy Jacobs of Boston and Murray Edwards of Calgary in the negotiations.
"It became obvious that the guys they brought in had nowhere near a complete understanding of what the proposals were and where we were in the negotiations," Westgarth said. "I thought it was great that Ron Burkle, Larry Tanenbaum, Mark Chipman and Jeff Vinik got involved — clearly they're passionate and care about the game — but it shows how tightly controlled the league is."
Interesting, isn't it, that for all the bluster from the other side of the negotiating table about Donald Fehr misinforming the players or not giving them a clear picture of the negotiations, the "moderate" owners brought in to bridge the gap with players "had nowhere near a complete understanding of what the proposals were"?
What it speaks to: How protected these owners are from legitimate questions about their motivations, wants and desires in this lockout. Because if questioned, one imagines their solidarity would show more cracks than a sheet of thin ice.