Hartnell on NHLPA strength: “The solidarity is absolutely awesome to see”

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The way Scott Hartnell sees it, the biggest difference between this (impending) lockout and the one that wiped out the 2004-05 season is simple:

The players’ union is better than it’s ever been.

“There’s a lot more communication than there was during the last lockout. I remember not really hearing a thing and being uninformed,” Hartnell told USA Today. “This time, every meeting we’re getting calls from player reps, union heads…we’re having conference calls.

“A lot of different guys are showing up to meetings and it’s great to be apart of it. It’s fun. It’s interesting. You’re going against some very powerful people that own multimillion-dollar companies and hockey teams.”

The NHLPA does appear to be much more organized than the last lockout.

The creation of the 31-player Negotiating Committee plays a big role in that — comprised of players from 19 of the league’s 30 teams, it includes a wide range of tenured players like John Tavares (21 years old) all the way up to 38-year-old Adrian Aucoin, the oldest committee member.

There’s also a handful of Ivy Leaguers — George Parros and Kevin Westgarth went to Princeton, Dominic Moore and Craig Adams went to Harvard, Douglas Murray went to Cornell — and reps from both the Ukraine (Ruslan Fedotenko) and Sweden (Murray, Henrik Zetterberg).

Hartnell says the way in which NHLers have rallied around each other during this difficult time is a positive sign for the future.

“The strength and the solidarity is absolutely awesome to see,” he said. “We want to play. The fans want to see us play.”