NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr was at the podium, but it was the players — from young stars to veterans without contracts — who stood with him who delivered the real message.

They're ready for a long, tumultuous fight with the league over a new collective bargaining agreement, and that includes Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews.

"For myself, it's a huge priority to keep track of what's going on and to be on top of things," Toews said after the NHLPA meeting concluded in downtown Chicago on Wednesday. "There is always uncertainty. But you've got to be confident in these situations and be confident in each other, especially the players amongst themselves."