Will Donald Fehr, NHLPA bring another lockout?

donald fehr.jpgWhether this is good news or not remains to be seen, but the murmurs are turning into rumbles. It sounds like there’s a good chance that former Major League Baseball Player’s Association leader Donald Fehr will run hockey’s players association. Moving him into that position now would provide plenty of time to prepare for the looming re-negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Again, that might not be a good thing for hockey fans (but then again, these decisions aren’t exactly made with the fans in mind anyway).

Whenever the NHL’s Player Association is in the news, many hardened lockout veterans squirm and consider the possibility of another debilitating lockout. The NHLPA has been in a near-constant state of uproar ever since Bob Goodenow resigned after the horribly unsuccessful year off.

Say what you will about Goodenow, the player’s association certainly hasn’t prospered since he left. Sports fans know the Fehr’s name for stomach-churning reasons: he ran Major League Baseball’s players association during their wildly unpopular strike. No doubt about it, though, the NHLPA could certainly use a clear leader. Let’s take a look at the organization’s mishaps since the lockout.

  • Bob Goodenow resigns in shame after the lockout in July 2005. Again, say what you will about the man, he advanced players salaries with staggering success. Besides, he brought a level or respect to the union after its name was profoundly damaged by Alan Eagleson. James Mirtle’s perspective ended up being dead-on.

And, after months of being the public face of the union, the irksome Ted Saskin is its new head. Consider this a lateral move for hockey fans.

  • In a scandal fit for an episode of “The Office,” Ted Saskin was fired in May 2007 after reports surfaced that he conducted “e-mail surveillance.” Sorry, Chris Chelios; no more LOLcats e-mails.
  • Paul Kelly was ousted from the NHLPA in what almost seemed like a military coup in August 2009. Sports Illustrated’s Alan Muir painted the picture.

Kelly, whose only failing during his nearly two-year tenure may have been ignoring those warnings himself, was marched to the guillotine after a palace coup at 3:30 Monday morning. He was replaced Monday evening on an interim basis by general counsel Ian Penny, a holdover from the Bob Goodenow era who recently was granted a long-term contract extension without Kelly’s knowledge.

Hoping for some kind of smoking gun to justify the dismissal? Don’t hold your breath.

As you can see, the union has been in disarray since the last few years. You could create the world’s blandest soap opera with all the back stabbing going on. Can Fehr bring the authority that the association needs? Really, I think I speak for most hockey fans when I say, “Do whatever it takes to avoid another lockout.” Hockey’s still struggling because of that last one, but the next one could be a death blow for the NHL.

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    Looking to make the leap: Daniel Sprong

    PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 15:  Daniel Sprong #41 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck in front of Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators during the game at Consol Energy Center on October 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Pittsburgh Penguins day at PHT…

    Daniel Sprong was stuck in a difficult position during the 2015-16 season.

    He ended up being just one of eight players from the 2015 draft to play in the NHL, spending the first two months of the season in Pittsburgh after earning a spot on the roster thanks to an impressive training camp and preseason performance. But once there the Penguins really didn’t seem to know what to do with him. He showed flashes of the talent that earned him a spot on the roster, but it was also clear that his play away from the puck needed work and that he never completely had the trust of then-coach Mike Johnston.

    If he was not a healthy scratch, he was only playing limited minutes.

    But because he was only 18 years old, he was not eligible to play in the American Hockey League during the regular season due to the AHL-CHL transfer agreement.

    That meant if he wasn’t going to play in Pittsburgh, a league that was probably a little too advanced for him at the time, he had to return to the QMJHL to play for his junior team, the Charlottetown Islanders, in a league that he was probably too good for. It’s an agreement that works great for the CHL, but doesn’t really give prospects the best chance to develop that season because their only options are a league where they are overmatched or a league where they are probably the best player on the ice every time they go over the boards.

    Eventually, the Penguins were left with little choice and did in fact return him to the Q where he, quite predictably, dominated the competition and recorded 46 points in 33 games.

    At the conclusion of Charlottetown’s season, he was able to play for the Penguins’ AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the playoffs where he scored five goals and added two assists in only 10 games.

    The problem he is going to face this season is that the Penguins’ forward group is already mostly locked in at the start as they are returning everybody from their Stanley Cup winning roster, which is going to make things tight for somebody new to break into the lineup.

    But Sprong is clearly the team’s best forward prospect at the moment and one of the few players in the system that seems to have top-six potential. Whether it’s through his own play forcing his way into NHL action or an injury, he should have an opportunity to be a factor at some point this season.

    ‘He’s earned it’ — Jets name Wheeler new captain

    CALGARY, AB - MARCH 16: Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 16, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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    It was widely assumed that Blake Wheeler would inherit Andrew Ladd‘s captaincy in Winnipeg and, on Wednesday, the club made it official.

    Wheeler, 30, will become the second player to captain the Jets since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011, with Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele serving as alternates.

    The Wheeler decision was something of a no-brainer, as he’s one of the club’s longest tenured player (seven seasons and counting), spending the the last three as one of Ladd’s alternate captains.

    In the summer of ’13, Wheeler inked a six-year, $33.6 million extension with the Jets and has since established himself as one of the clubhouse leaders. He was a prominent voice during the Evander Kane saga, mincing no words when explaining what was expected of Jets players.

    “There’s a standard that everyone needs to live up to,” Wheeler said, per the Sun. “We’re professionals, we make a lot of money. And we’re expected to uphold a certain standard. That’s the code we live by.

    “If you don’t like it then there’s other places to go. This is the way we do things.”

    Flyers unveil golden 50th anniversary jerseys

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    It might seem inappropriate to release Flyers news on Pittsburgh Penguins day at PHT but, given the immediate backlash to said news, maybe it’s appropriate after all.

    On Wednesday, the Flyers unveiled their commemorative 50th anniversary jerseys, which are basically regular Flyers jerseys, but with some gold on them.

    Not sure what else to say. They’re gold. Guess it’s worth mentioning the inside collar of each jersey is emblazoned with “EST. 1967,” an homage to the year the Flyers entered the NHL as an expansion franchise.

    Oh yeah, Philly will wear the new third jersey 12 times this season, per TSN.

    Shortly after the release, the Internet went ahead and did what it does:

    For more on the jerseys, click here.

    Stars promote White, Janko to assistant GM roles

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Jim Nill of the Detroit Red Wings works the draft floor during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Dallas Stars made some front office adjustments on Wednesday.

    Longtime executive Les Jackson, 63, has been “elevated” from his role as Jim Nill’s assistant GM to “senior advisor to the general manager” while Scott White, the GM of Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas, has been promoted to AGM.

    White will work alongside fellow new AGM Mark Janko, who was promoted from his role as the club’s director of hockey administration.

    What does it all mean?

    Not a ton, though it’s interesting to note the club is shifting Jackson’s role after he was close to taking the Arizona gig earlier this year.

    Jackson was believed to be the original frontrunner to replace the outgoing Don Maloney but, after he and the Coyotes were unable to strike a deal, the club proceeded to hire 26-year-old John Chayka, the youngest GM in NHL history.