Shea Weber made sure he stayed informed on the progress of collective bargaining talks between the National Hockey League Players Association and the league.
Even the Nashville Predators captain occasionally wondered if the sides ever would reach an agreement that would allow the season to start.
“There were obviously times when you wondered but I think we figured that it would happen,” he said this week. “It’s easy to say that now that we’re going to play but there was definitely a lot of ups and downs and we’re just thankful that the time is finally here.”
Officially, the lockout implemented by the owners on Sept. 15 remains in place. Those same owners took a significant step toward ending it Wednesday when they unanimously ratified the new collective bargaining agreement at a meeting in New York.
All that remains is for the NHLPA to do the same. When that happens — the expectation is that it will be done Saturday — the NHL can resume operations and begin training camps.
“This great game has been gone for far too long, and for that we are truly sorry,” Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the NHL’s board of governors said in a statement.”
It took 113 days from the start of the lockout to the end of negotiations, which probably seemed like an eternity to some.
Since the announcement of an agreement early Sunday morning everyone has adopted a greater sense of urgency.
“It was tough sometimes to keep motivated but we had a good group of guys that stayed here the whole lockout,” Nashville goalie Chris Mason said. “So we got some good work. There were definitely some dog days where the effort wasn’t there and it was hard to get the morale up. But once they made the announcement that changed in a hurry.
“Guys are just excited and just can’t wait to get in that room and start playing games.”
Last summer, Weber was named to the NHLPA’s negotiating committee. Although he never sat in on any of the talks, he said he was on every conference call the players’ union held to provide updates.
“It was tough,” he said. “There were a lot of ups and downs. We thought we were close for a while and there were times we didn’t even talk for a week or two. So it’s tough. … We tried to stick with it, keep it, stay focused so we’d be ready for now.”