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Villain Fehr real star of lockout show

Unified players, polarized fans

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Don Fehr has been the unequivocal star of the NHL’s 2012-13 lockout.

The union leader has been the maverick, the villain, the Robin Hood and the philosopher.

Fehr has galvanized the players, polarized fans and frustrated the NHL. He has been a bit of everything in his first starring turn among the hockey world.

The NHL lockout has produced some winners and losers to date among the union, media and league as we have watched this labour impasse unfold on Twitter, in newspapers and broadcast formats.

Most of us have tired of the spectacle at this point and only want hockey to get back on the ice.

But we’ve spent a lot of time talking and writing and viewing and listening on all things lockout. Here’s a list of some of the winners, losers and unforgettable moments so far:

The Manhattan meltdown

On Dec. 6, the usually unflappable NHL commissioner Gary Bettman lost his cool and went on a tirade in front of a national Canadian TV audience. Bettman was infuriated with Fehr for suggesting a deal was imminent and that the sides were very close on all major issues.

The podium

NHL media took a photo of a lonely podium and posted it on Twitter. The podium soon had its own Twitter account.

 Twitter

 The NHL lockout was covered by social media like no other labour dispute. Players used it to bash ownership and league management and agents used it to support players. Some players (hello Evander Kane) used it to get fans riled up. TSN analyst Darren Dreger was snapped in a Twitter pick making a serious face and soon #dregerface was trending.

 Ron Hainsey

 The Jets defenceman has become a household name during the lockout as he has emerged as Fehr’s top lieutenant among the players. Hainsey has drawn fire from fans but he as held fast to his beliefs and done an admirable job representing his fellow players.

 Disclaimer of interest

 Many of us had never heard the term before but the union introduced the mechanism in December as it held a vote and gave its executive the right to execute a disclaimer of interest. In essence the manoeuvre is union leadership saying it can no longer represent the collective and moving to dissolve the union.

 Media darlings

 The usual suspects from TSN and Sportsnet have kept busy doing their thing but new stars like Chris Johnston of The Canadian Press and Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports have also emerged. The lockout put a different spotlight on the NHL and fans used Twitter to follow the play-by-play.

 gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter:@garylawless

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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