Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Enforcer Is Fighting at Negotiating Table, Too ; Los Angeles Forward, a Princeton Graduate, Is Mainstay at Labor Talks

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Enforcer Is Fighting at Negotiating Table, Too ; Los Angeles Forward, a Princeton Graduate, Is Mainstay at Labor Talks

Article excerpt

Kevin Westgarth, a forward with the Los Angeles Kings and a graduate of Princeton, has been a mainstay for the union at labor talks.

Kevin Westgarth is well suited to be on the negotiating team for the National Hockey League Players' Association. He is a 6-foot-4 forward and enforcer for the Los Angeles Kings, little used but with his name on the Stanley Cup after the club won the title in 2012. He also has a psychology degree from Princeton University. And he has been present for almost every bargaining session since before the N.H.L. lockout began Sept. 16.

"I guess I have these things brimming at the top of my brain," Westgarth, who stands 1.96 meters tall, said Saturday during a telephone interview in which he shared detailed explanations of pension benefits and contract term limits. "My wife is fed up with me talking about this."

Westgarth and several other players on the negotiating team spent the weekend filling in their fellow union members on what happened at talks last week in New York, which ended with N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman angrily rejecting the union's offer and pulling the league's offers off the table.

"We have gone a lot further than a great percentage of the membership has wanted us to go," Westgarth said. "I don't know how you look at our offer and say that we've been unreasonable."

Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, and Steve Fehr, the union's special counsel, spoke over the weekend, but no new talks were scheduled. However, if and when they resume, Westgarth said he would be there.

"I feel like I want to protect my teammates," Westgarth said of the similarities between his role in the union and on the ice.

He added, "It's just the hockey player ethos," and the result of several philosophy courses.

Westgarth grew up in Amherstburg, Ontario, near Windsor, the son of veterinarians. "It's always been a balance throughout my life," Westgarth said. "My parents said you can play hockey if you do well at school. I was lucky -- it came relatively easy."

At Princeton, he took to heart the advice of his coach, Guy Gadowsky.

Westgarth said Gadowsky told him: "'You shouldn't say, I can't be good at hockey because I'm smarter or I have harder schoolwork. …

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