NHL players eager to get union help from Donald Fehr

Thumbnail image for Fehr.jpgThis probably isn’t the kind of story hockey fans are excited to read about, especially considering the potential implications it could have, but hey, we have to give you all the news here whether you like it or not. The Globe and Mail’s Chris Johnston breaks the fan-angst-filled update on what the NHLPA thinks of getting former MLBPA head man Donald Fehr involved as an adviser and possibly more.

A number of NHL players threw their support behind Fehr on the eve of meetings for the NHLPA’s executive board. Speaking at the union’s charity golf tournament on Monday afternoon, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek said he was “crossing his fingers” that Fehr would accept a leadership position with the union.

“He’d be a huge asset for the NHLPA,” said Komisarek. “To have him come in and lead this union, to round up and gather 700 guys and get them on the same page would be great.”

We talked about Fehr working with the NHLPA as an unpaid adviser a few weeks ago here and the NHLPA gave us their statement on the process, through a spokesman,  that “their search for a new Executive Director is ongoing and when the process has concluded, a report will be presented to the players for their consideration.”

As for more of what the players will do to try and convince Fehr to jump on board, Pittsburgh’s Max Talbot shared his thoughts.

“He’s obviously really experienced, what he’s done with baseball is great,” said Pittsburgh Penguins winger Max Talbot. “It’s tough to find someone with that kind of experience, but we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“We’re going to talk about it tomorrow and Wednesday.”

A little brown-nosing goes a long way and given what a huge mess the NHLPA has been for the better part of 20 years, getting the man who got the Major League Baseball Players Association everything they ever wanted and more certainly looks attractive.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell runs down a list of the things the NHL players will be looking to do at their summer meeting to amend their constitution. To sum it up best for you, these amendments essentially give more power to the executive director of the players union to lead more efficiently and with hopes for less mutiny. In other words, they’re setting it up so Donald Fehr (or whomever they decide on to lead them) can rule with less interference from within.

I’m not going to be Chicken Little here and yell about the sky falling, but the eventual 2012 battle to renegotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and owners is going to be contentious, heated and probably ugly. Let’s just hope these guys all learned a lesson from what happened with the lost season.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

Leave a comment

There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
1 Comment

Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.