NHLPA could use a man like Donald Fehr

Fehr.jpgIt’s amazing to me how the NHLPA is coming under an incredible amount of fire the past few days after the news broke that Donald Fehr is being courted as the next executive director. Instantly, everyone’s thoughts turned to the MLB player’s strike in 1994; now that Fehr could become the leader of the NHLPA, of course this means a player’s strike in 2012 is inevitable, right?

Not a chance.

In fact, I’d argue that a person with Fehr’s experience and background is exactly what the NHLPA needs. Some say his lack of a hockey background is hurtful to the NHL and the player’s association, but there are times when an outsider’s view and a brand new voice can help more than someone who’s been in with the same crowd year after year.

It’s not like things can get any worse. The NHLPA is a laughing stock right now, with a mess of a command structure after the majority of senior personnel lost the past year’s turnover. The PA tried to strong arm the NHL when the league wanted to institute and rule change and the NHL basically swatted them aside and said, “We’ll do it anyway because we can! We just asked you to be nice.”

The NHL came out of it looking like they just wanted to help the players, while the NHLPA appeared to be just a group of petulant players who couldn’t make their minds up about a rule change they always wanted anyways. Apparently the NHLPA is supposed to immediately acquiesce to any and all rule changes made by the league.

The NHLPA needs strong leadership, and there’s no doubt that Fehr would provide the strong hand the players and agents have been looking for. After a presentation to the NHLPA yesterday by Fehr on a new constitution, it became obvious that he is the man everyone wants for the job. From David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail:

“After hearing [Fehr’s] presentation, let’s just say there is no one
else who can hold his jockstrap if he decides to do it,” said one agent,
who did not want to be named.

This isn’t some power move by the NHLPA to hire a guy who will ensure a strike takes place down the line. In fact, Fehr is perhaps the best person possible to ensure that doesn’t happen, at least from the player’s standpoint.

Let the calls for doom and gloom continue, but you can’t fault the PA for acting to try and rectify an insanely messy situation. The league cannot

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    Seth Griffith is on waivers….again

    SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 29:  Seth Griffith #24 of the Florida Panthers takes a shot on Al Montoya #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during a game  at BB&T Center on December 29, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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    Seth Griffith is on waivers again.

    The 24-year-old forward has only managed five assists in 21 games for the Florida Panthers since being claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Leafs had claimed Griffith off waivers from Boston at the beginning of the season.

    A prolific scorer at the AHL level (he had 77 points in 57 games for Providence last season), Griffith has just six goals and 10 assists in 58 career NHL games.

    Griffith has been a healthy scratch the past three games for the Panthers.

    Rowe says no timeline on Barkov, who could be out a while longer

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17:  Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers celebrtaes his goal at 1:11 of the second period against the New York Islanders during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Aleksander Barkov was only supposed to miss 2-3 weeks with a then-undisclosed injury.

    That timeline was provided almost three weeks ago, and Barkov still isn’t back playing for the Florida Panthers.

    Today, interim coach Tom Rowe provided an update, and it wasn’t good news. Rowe told reporters on a conference call that there’s no timeline for Barkov’s return. He then dropped an even bigger bomb, admitting there’s concern that both Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau could have season-ending injuries.

    Huberdeau has not played at all this season after suffering a skate laceration in the preseason. His original timeline was 3-4 months. The Panthers are still hoping he’ll be back by early March.

    The Panthers’ frustrating season continued last night in Edmonton, where they lost 4-3 in overtime on a Connor McDavid goal with 2.6 seconds remaining. Though they’re only one point back of a playoff spot, the closest two teams they’re chasing, Toronto and Ottawa, each have five games in hand.

    It’s estimated that Florida (20-18-9) will need to go in the neighborhood of 20-10-5 down the stretch in order to make the playoffs. And that will obviously be a lot tougher to accomplish without two of the team’s best forwards — if, indeed, Barkov and Huberdeau are sidelined for much, or even all, of the remaining schedule.

    ‘No doubt that there is a confidence issue’ with Lundqvist, says AV

    2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
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    These are rough times for the King.

    Henrik Lundqvist, who for the better part of a decade has been a brick wall for the Rangers, is going through arguably the toughest stretch of his career. He allowed seven goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Stars on Tuesday, and 12 on 49 shots in his last four periods played.

    If you go back over his last four games, it’s a staggering 20 goals on 113 shots.

    His head coach knows something is wrong.

    “There’s no doubt that there is a confidence issue with Hank,” Alain Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “Hank has had some moments in the past, probably never to this degree.

    “So he’s in new territory, we’re in new territory to some extent.”

    As Vigneault said, Lundqvist’s had some struggles before. The end of last year wasn’t very good — he struggled in late in the year, and was torched in an opening-round playoff loss to the Penguins.

    Thing is, both Lundqvist and the Rangers conceded a large part of those struggles were due to the guys playing in front of him, and all the glorious scoring opportunities they allowed.

    So it’s telling that Vigneault and Lundqvist aren’t using that theory this time around. In fact, AV went to far as to suggest the opposite — that Lundqvist’s poor play is actually affecting the guys in front of him.

    “Sometimes that can trickle down a little bit with the other guys when something happens on the ice,” he explained.

    The other big difference with this particular stretch of struggle is that there’s no safety valve. Lundqvist’s traditionally had good backups — Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta, most notably — but Raanta is now sidelined with injury, leaving untested Magnus Hellberg as the club’s No. 2.

    (Even during his World Cup struggles, Lundqvist had a capable backup in Jacob Markstrom to lighten the load.)

    As such, it’s solely on King Henrik to turn this around. And he knows it.

    “I feel like it’s embarrassing and frustrating and disappointing at the same time,” Lundqvist said, per NHL.com. “I need to find another level.

    “It’s not good enough.”

    Depth scoring helps Penguins get by Canadiens

    MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 18:  Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his third period goal with teammates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on January 18, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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    MONTREAL (AP) Eric Fehr and Jake Guentzel scored in the second period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    Defensemen Ian Cole and Olli Maatta also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second game in a row after a three-game skid.

    Sven Andrighetto scored for Montreal, which lost its second straight and has only two wins in its last six games. The Canadiens’ offense remained in a rut coming off a 1-0 loss Monday in Detroit.

    Penguins goalie Matt Murray was back in form after Monday’s wild 8-7 win over Washington, making 19 saves. But Carey Price‘s woes continued as Pittsburgh outshot Montreal 26-20. Price allowed three or more goals for the eighth time in 10 games.

    A tight-checking first period saw Pittsburgh strike first as Cole took a feed from Evgeni Malkin on a counterattack and scored on a high shot inside the near post with Patric Horqvist screening Carey Price. Malkin picked up his seventh point in five games.

    Fehr, who got into the lineup with Matt Cullen out 3-to-4 weeks with a foot injury, was left alone in front to take a pass from Chris Kunitz and score 5:19 into the second. Guentzel made it 3-0 at 17:38 when he tipped a point shot from Cameron Gaunce, who was making his Penguins debut.

    Andrighetto got one back at 18:11 when he banked one in off Murray from the side of the net.

    Conor Sheary got away with tripping defenseman Jeff Petry behind the Montreal net and fed the puck to Maatta at the point for a low shot that went through Price’s pads 15:36 into the third frame.

    A scoreboard tribute was paid to former Montreal Expos star Tim Raines for his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame earlier Wednesday.

    UP NEXT

    Penguins: at Carolina on Friday night.

    Canadiens: at New Jersey on Friday night.