NEW YORK — The players began voting on the collective bargaining agreement Thursday night and have 36 hours, until 8 a.m. Saturday, to cast their ballot on the deal that would end the four-month lockout.
The union said it would announce the result of the electronic vote Saturday morning. If a majority of the 700-plus players choose to accept the deal owners unanimously ratified Wednesday, training camps will open Sunday and a 48-game regular season will begin Jan. 19.
A tentative agreement was reached early Sunday, the 113th day of the lockout.
Throughout the lockout, union executive director Donald Fehr kept the players updated via emails, a phone app and face-to-face meetings, making sure everyone was informed on every step of the negotiations.
"Hiring him was the best move that we've made as a (union) for a long time," Capitals wing Troy Brouwer said. "(Fehr) did everything the players asked of him. When the players wanted to move on things, he was willing to move on things. When the players wanted to really hold on to something, he made sure we did."
Fehr, the ex-head of the baseball players union, was hired Dec. 18, 2010. He has impressed players with his experience, knowledge and communication.
"Players are emotional people," Sharks wing Adam Burish said. "And we'd get in there and yell and scream and say, 'This is what we have to do!' And he'd listen … and take our criticisms and advice, and mold his opinion and give it to us. And then he'd let us make the decisions always. I think all the membership is pretty thrilled that we were able to get him … because he was amazing."
Players believe if not for Fehr, the deal would not have been as favorable for them after they made major concessions to end the lockout that got the 2004-05 season cancelled.
"(Fehr) did a tremendous job of keeping everyone together and … informed," Blackhawks wing Viktor Stalberg said. "Last time around, they weren't as good at doing that. And that put guys in different corners at times. It's hard to get a good negotiation if you're not sticking together."