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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    Torts not worried after Jackets get blown out twice — ‘Today was going to be a mess’

    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 17:  Head coach John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets reacts on the bench during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 17, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    John Tortorella could only blame John Tortorella after the Blue Jackets got blown out in both their split-squad games Sunday against the Blues.

    The Jackets dropped a 7-3 decision in St. Louis and lost 5-0 at home.

    “Let’s not make any judgments here as far as today,” Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Today was going to be a mess. I give the guys credit. I’m not being negative about the team. They did what we asked of them (the first three days). They pushed. They gave it to us there and it suffers in these games.”

    Tortorella, who runs notoriously tough training camps, wants to “make sure our conditioning is there by the 13th,” when the Jackets open the regular season.

    Columbus plays its first three games at home, against Boston, San Jose and Chicago. A good start is going to be key for the Jackets, especially after starting last season 0-8-0.

    Bernier back with Isles on training camp PTO

    NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Steve Bernier #16 of the New York Islanders skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on September 25, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    New York liked enough of what it saw from Steve Bernier last season to offer him another kick at the can.

    On Monday, the Isles announced that — for the second year in a row — Bernier would be coming to training camp on a PTO.

    Last fall, Bernier parlayed his tryout into a one-year, $750,000 deal but only saw a limited body of work. The former first-round pick scored six points in 24 regular season games, then dressed for six playoff contests.

    Bernier isn’t the only veteran forward attending Isles camp on a PTO, as longtime Devils winger Stephen Gionta is also there (Gionta and Bernier were once teammates in New Jersey).

    There are holes to fill up front. The Isles lost three key forwards in free agency — Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo — which will result in some of last year’s third- and fourth-line players getting bumped to more prominent roles.

    Those promotions could bode well for Bernier and Gionta.

     

    Sens to move AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Belleville

    MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 13:  Center Jason Spezza of the Binghamton Senators smiles before the start of the American Hockey League All Star Skills Competition on February 13, 2005 at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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    The Ottawa Senators announced today that they’ve purchased the AHL franchise in Binghamton, N.Y. and will move it to Belleville, Ont. for the start of the 2017-18 season.

    From the press release:

    The Ottawa Senators and the City of Belleville have also agreed on an eight-year agreement to welcome the newly minted Belleville Senators to the city.

    In order to properly accommodate a new professional AHL team, the City of Belleville will immediately undertake more than $18.5 million in important renovations to modernize Belleville’s Yardmen Arena and prepare it for professional hockey for the first time in the city’s history. 

    The Baby Sens have played in Binghamton since 2002, winning a Calder Cup in 2011. AHL officials are reportedly working to secure another franchise for the city for the 2017-18 season.

    Belleville to Ottawa is a mere 2.5-hour drive, according to Google. The Belleville Bulls were an OHL team that started playing in 1981 before moving to Hamilton in 2015.

    Seidenberg, without a contract, playing a key role for Team Europe

    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 08:  Dennis Seidenberg #44 of the Boston Bruins skates against Mason Raymond #21 of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Four of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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    Dennis Seidenberg has been a key player for Team Europe at the World Cup, and he doesn’t even have an NHL contract.

    Seidenberg, 35, logged 23:30 in Europe’s 3-2 overtime upset of Sweden on Sunday. Only Roman Josi (29:00) played more for the winning side. Seidenberg even played more than his old Boston teammate, Zdeno Chara (22:26).

    “I’ve played quite a bit,” Seidenberg said earlier in the tournament, per the Associated Press. “People should know what I can do and can’t do by now, but nonetheless this is an important tournament for me.”

    A Stanley Cup champion in 2011, Seidenberg became an unrestricted free agent when he was bought out by the Bruins over the summer. At first, the decision shocked him, but the shock eventually passed. So far, he’s been holding out for a guaranteed contract, as opposed to a tryout.

    The Ottawa Senators are reportedly a potential landing spot.

    Seidenberg may not be a full-time, top-four defenseman anymore, but he should still be able to hold down a bottom-pairing role, with the ability to log top-four minutes if there’s an injury.

    He’ll get another good look from the scouts on Tuesday when Team Europe opens its best-of-three series with the heavy favorites from Canada. He’s not the only UFA blue-liner on his team, as 34-year-old Christian Ehrhoff is also playing a role, albeit a smaller one.