The NHL players know they won't defeat the owners during the CBA negotiations in this lockout, but hiring Donald Fehr has given them a stronger chance of getting a more favorable deal than last time.
When the NHL cancelled the Winter Classic last Friday, the league proved that it was serious about making a deal to help its current situation, even if this game is a bigger money-maker for the league than the players. Cancelling the Winter Classic helped the owners show their unity as a group.
Fehr has been given the difficult task of getting the most concessions out of the owners as possible, and thus far, it appears that the NHLPA won't be dominated as badly as they were seven years ago.
If the next agreement includes all existing contracts being honored and a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue in year one, the players shouldn't view that as a substantial loss.
The players will crack first, but if the owners think that the NHLPA offering concessions is a sign of weakness, they are mistaken. Unlike the last lockout, the players won't accept a deal that includes very little of what they wanted to achieve from the start.
The players want to get back on the ice and resume their NHL careers, but not at the cost of accepting a terrible deal from their point of view.
They may crack on some issues to spark some negotiations that lead to progress towards making a deal, but they won't go far enough where they accept a poor deal for the current and future members of their union.
Fans can trust the players to end the lockout more than the owners. The owners run the league, and won't agree to a bad deal for them, especially when more than half of the NHL's team are losing money (via Forbes).
If there's a lot of teams who would be losing money if the season was already being played, why would they want to end the lockout without an agreement that is favorable for them?
For a deal to get done, the players will have to crack on some issues, but at least they won't have to give in to something as significant as the salary cap this time around.
The players can make concessions in this lockout and still reach a new CBA that is beneficial for them in a number of ways.
This should lead to a new agreement that will save the 2012-13 season, unless one side decides to take a firm stand on the important issues. Then the season will be threatened.