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.

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    Red Wings take advantage of Penguins’ mistakes in 5-2 win

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    Even though the odds are stacked against them at this point, if the Detroit Red Wings are going to extend their playoff streak they are going to need to pile up a lot of wins the rest of the way to dig themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.

    They took a big step toward doing that this weekend with two huge wins over the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

    They completed the weekend on Sunday with a rather convincing 5-2 win in Pittsburgh, taking advantage of a sloppy Penguins team that struggled in all phases of the game.

    This win came just one day after the Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals in a shootout.

    The big story for Detroit on Sunday early on was the play of starting goaltender Petr Mrazek — starting both ends of the back-to-back this week — as he made a couple of highlight reel saves to rob Ian Cole and Nick Bonino of what looked like sure goals.

    In the two games this weekend he stopped 58 of the 62 shots he faced.

    It has been a disappointing season for Mrazek individually, but he has worked to salvage it over the past four games by only allowing only nine goals on 160 shots (.943 save percentage).

    As for the players in front of him, the Red Wings’ penalty killers were sensational on Sunday, frustrating the Penguins’ power play and limiting them to just three total shots on goal on their four power play attempts.

    Three of the Penguins’ power plays failed to register a single shot on goal.

    While Mrazek and the Red Wings were shutting down the Penguins’ high powered offensive attack, the Red Wings feasted on some brutal turnovers by the Penguins and an off day from Matt Murray in net to put five goals on the board. It was only the third time in the past month they scored more than three goals in a game.

    They opened the scoring in the first period on a slick Nick Jensen goal following an Evgeni Malkin turnover in the offensive zone (seen above).

    With the Red Wings holding a 2-1 lead entering the third period, a Jake Guentzel turnover resulted in Tomas Tatar‘s 14th goal of the season for the Red Wings to give them a two-goal lead.

    Just two minutes later Thomas Vanek put the game away with his 15th goal of the season.

    Sunday’s win is still just Detroit’s fourth in its past 14 games, while the Red Wings remain six points back of a playoff spot in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

    For the Penguins, it is their first loss in regulation since the All-Star break snapping what had been a nine-game point streak that saw them go 6-0-3.

    Sens’ Hoffman leaves game vs. Jets with lower-body injury

    OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 13: Mike Hoffman #68 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Minnesota Wild at Canadian Tire Centre on November 13, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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    The Ottawa Senators will need a comeback effort today in order to take over top spot in the Atlantic Division.

    Making matters more difficult: The Senators, in action today against the Winnipeg Jets and having gone down two goals after the first period, will strive for that without forward Mike Hoffman, one of their best scorers.

    Hoffman left the game in the first period and will not return, the Senators said, because of a lower-body injury.

    With a win today, the Senators would move into a tie with the Montreal Canadiens at 70 points, but they would take over first place in the division because they have fewer games played.

    Hoffman is tied with Kyle Turris for second on the Senators in goal scoring with 19 goals.

    WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Sabres

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    A three-game winning streak has the Buffalo Sabres right back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

    They’ll go for four wins in a row when they host the Chicago Blackhawks, who sit second in the Central Division, on Sunday (6 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Blackhawks’ winning streak goes bye thanks to Talbot, Oilers

    ‘Hawks are happy with rookies’ progress

    Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

    Sabres win third in a row to stay in playoff race

    Goalie Nods: Lehner looks to lead Sabres to fourth win in a row

    BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 15:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres defends the net against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on January 15, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)
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    With three consecutive wins — and six wins in their past nine — the Buffalo Sabres are trying to keep things interesting in the Eastern Conference playoff race, entering play on Saturday just two points out of a wild card spot.

    One of the biggest reasons for their success in recent weeks has been the fantastic play of starting goaltender Robin Lehner.

    Not only has he won four of his past five starts (including all three during the Sabres’ current winning streak), but he has probably been the driving force behind that surge with a .949 save percentage, allowing more than two goals just once during that stretch.

    In three of those games he has made at least 37 saves.

    Lehner has been a pretty big positive for the Sabres this season overall with a .926 save percentage.

    Since joining Buffalo at the start of the 2015-16 he is at .925 putting him with the best goaltenders in the league.

    They are going to need him to be great on Sunday evening again with a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    The Blackhawks are starting Scott Darling.

    Elsewhere on Sunday…

    — In the afternoon games it was Phillip Grubauer vs. Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers-Capitals game and Matt Murray vs. Petr Mrazek in the Penguins-Red Wings game in Pittsburgh.

    Mike Condon draws back in for the Ottawa Senators when they look to move into a first place tie in the Atlantic Division. Connor Hellebuyck goes for the Jets.

    Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host the Nashville Predators. No official word from Nashville yet but with Pekka Rinne taking the loss on Saturday it would make sense to see Juuse Saros get the start.

    Thomas Greiss gets the night off for the New York Islanders after he played on Saturday, which means Jean-Francois Berube goes when they take on the New Jersey Devils in the second half of their back-to-back. Keith Kinkaid gets the start for the Devils to give Cory Schneider a night off.

    — Nothing official from Toronto yet but look for the Maple Leafs to give Curtis McElhinney the start in Carolina against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have not announced their starter.

    Calvin Pickard is expected to start for Colorado when the Avalanche host the Tampa Bay Lightning. No word yet from the Lightning on their starter.

    — The Boston Bruins go for their fourth win in a row when they take on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night. It will be Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins with Martin Jones going for the Sharks.

    — The Kings and Ducks have not announced their starters yet.

    — After leading the Canucks to a win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night Ryan Miller is going right back in the net for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers.