Inevitably any lockout or labor situation in pro sports comes down to winners and losers.

The term "winner" or "loser" can be a relative term, of course. In the NHL lockout that mercifully came to an end at 4:40 a.m. on Sunday morning at a hotel ballroom in New York City, the league was always going to be the overwhelming victor.

The NHL players accepted the fact their share of Hockey Related Revenue was always going to get slashed from 57 percent to a more fair-sounding 50/50 split in the new CBA just as had gone down in NBA and NFL negotiations before them. The NHL owners saw what stone cold lockouts had accomplished in the other major pro sports, and they were determined to do the same in their league.

Amazingly the players understood this and essentially engaged in "concession bargaining" where they knew conditions would get worse in the new CBA.

"I'm pretty proud of the resolve that we showed as players," said Shawn Thornton. "There were no cracks [within the NHLPA union]."

They went from having no term limits for personal contracts and no limits to variances on year-to-year salaries to seven-year contract limits and a 35 percent variance maximum on year-to-year salary figures.

The only victories the players ended hanging their collective hats on were a pension plan funded by the owners and individual hotel rooms for all NHL veterans that have graduated past their entry-level contract. The players also have an appeal process when they're suspended for six or more games, but that's a benefit most players will never utilize.