The NHLPA drags its feet, doesn't approve or reject Donald Fehr's bid to lead players union

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for donald fehr.jpgSome things never change (or if they do, those changes take ages to happen). One of the sad constants in hockey is that the NHL Players Association cannot seem to avoid tripping over its own feet.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the player representatives somehow failed to take a vote to reject or approve Donald Fehr’s nomination to be the organization’s leader during a Wednesday conference call. My guess is that the players had more important things to discuss, like … their summer tans and newly acquired yachts, maybe?

One interesting bit of information comes in the form of Fehr’s list of demands, which Brooks passed along in that article. Surprisingly, he didn’t ask for a jar of yellow peanut M&Ms before every concert.

– Salary of $3 million per year to run through completion of collective bargaining after the current CBA expires following the 2011-12 season.

– Salary of $1.5 million for the remainder of this year.

– Ability to hire his brother, Steve Fehr, currently special counsel to the MLBPA after 23 years as outside counsel to the baseball players’ union, to an executive position.

– Autonomy relating to all personnel decisions within the union.

– Ability to live in New York.

– Permission to co-author a book about baseball with his brother, Steve.

– Permission to open a consulting firm, though with the express stipulation that his first priority at all times will be the NHLPA.

Hey, say what you might about Donald Fehr, at least he looks out for his brother. To put Fehr’s salary demands into a proper context, here are a few points of comparison from Brooks.

Fehr earned $1 million as executive director of the MLBPA, a position he held for 27 years until he stepped down in 2009. That’s the same salary his successor, Michael Weiner, earns.

Bob Goodenow earned between $3.5-4 million in 2003-04, the last season before the lockout. Sports Business Journal has reported that former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw earned $3 million in 2006 and that NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter received upward of $3.4 million in 2008-09, though that number may reflect bonuses.

I can respect the players’ misgivings in handing such a salary to Fehr, but if he can help clean up their considerable mess, it might be worth the price tag. Then again, a unified players association might increase the chances of a lockout, so picking a side to root for is pretty difficult for hockey fans and writers alike. Ultimately, I think we can all agree that a strike would be a true disaster for a league (and sport) that is still fighting to regain its pre-lockout place in the athletic marketplace.

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    Blues to retire Bob Plager’s No. 5

    ST. LOUIS - APRIL 9:  Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Al MacInnis #2 and his family watch his banner being raised during his jersey retirement ceremony prior to the game between the Blues and Edmonton Oilers at the Savvis Center on April 9, 2006 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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    The St. Louis Blues will commemorate their 50th anniversary with a special ceremony on Feb. 2, retiring the No. 5 jersey worn by longtime defenseman Bob Plager.

    More, from the club:

    Plager, who was acquired by the Blues on June 6, 1967 and has been with the organization for all 50 years, will become the seventh player in Blues history to have his number retired, joining No. 2 Al MacInnis, No. 3 Bob Gassoff, No. 11 Brian Sutter, No. 16 Brett Hull, No. 24 Bernie Federko and his brother, No. 8 Barclay Plager.

    Bob and Barclay Plager join Maurice and Henri Richard (Montreal Canadiens) as the only brothers to have their numbers retired by the same team in NHL history.

    Plager played 10 seasons with the Blues, then transitioned to a number of front office and coaching roles within the organization.

    In a unique twist, his No. 5 was never taken out of circulation and subsequently worn by another staple of the Blues organization — Barret Jackman, who recently retired after spending 16 years in St. Louis, appearing in over 800 games.

    Prior to the February retirement ceremony, Blues fans will be able to recognize Plager this Saturday when St. Louis hosts Los Angeles at Scottrade.

    Flames can get back to .500 with win over Sens

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The Calgary Flames have won two in a row, but they’re still a losing hockey club heading into tonight’s home game against Ottawa.

    That’s the message head coach Glen Gulutzan has been preaching after encouraging back-to-back victories in Chicago and St. Louis.

    “We’re still below .500,” Gulutzan said. “We can’t rest at all. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’ve played two good games. That’s what we’ve accomplished. You need to get on a roll and you need to keep pushing. Keep the focus and keep pushing.”

    The Flames (3-4-1) did not just get lucky in their last two games. They were especially good Tuesday in St. Louis, outshooting the Blues, 30-24, in a 4-1 win. Meanwhile, goalie Brian Elliott has bounced back after a tough debut for his new team; he’ll get a third straight start tonight.

    Suffice to say, the mood around the team has improved considerably.

    “My lips were getting sore from sucking on the exhaust pipe,” GM Brad Treliving jokingly told the Calgary Sun. “It was never as bad as it seemed, but it’s a stark change to how we played. … It’s a relief to stop the bleeding. We were disciplined, the power play worked, we limited chances, we didn’t turn the puck over and the goalie found his groove.”

    Related: The Flames are still learning their new system, and it shows

    Goalie nods: Kinkaid makes season debut for Devils

    New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid (1) watches a shot on goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Newark N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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    There’ll be a new look in goal for New Jersey this evening, as backup Keith Kinkaid gets his first start of the season as the Devils host the Blackhawks.

    Kinkaid will give Cory Schneider the night off, after Schneider started New Jersey’s first six games of the year.

    This promises to be a game worth monitoring. Kinkaid spent last year as Schneider’s backup — going 9-9-1 with a 2.81 GAA and .904 save percentage — but, this year, had to beat out Scott Wedgewood for the gig during training camp and the exhibition campaign.

    What’s more, Kinkaid is being thrown into a difficult matchup, taking on a Chicago team that’s averaging 3.43 goals per game this season. The ‘Hawks are busting out new lines tonight, too, as Patrick Kane will skate alongside Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.

    Corey Crawford will start for Chicago.


    Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes, who are playing their first home game of the season. Henrik Lundqvist goes for the Rangers.

    — It’s Michael Hutchinson versus Semyon Varlamov as the Jets take on the Avs in Colorado.

    Andrew Hammond, now Ottawa’s No. 1 with Craig Anderson away dealing with a personal issue, gets the nod in Calgary. He’ll be up against Brian Elliott, who has rebounded from a poor start to win both of his last two starts.

    — The red-hot Cam Talbot goes again for Edmonton tonight in Vancouver. The Canucks will counter with Ryan Miller.

    — No confirmed starters in Anaheim yet. Sergei Bobrovsky played in last night’s loss to San Jose, and John Gibson has been carrying the load lately with Jonathan Bernier out injured.

    Marchessault, Pirri providing great bang for buck

    SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 13: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Florida Panthers celebrates a goal during Opening Night of the 2016-2017 NHL Season against New Jersey Devils at BB&T Center on October 13, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    This summer’s free agent class was highlighted by a number of big-money deals.

    Yet through the first month of the season, the real highlight has been the guys that came on the cheap.

    Nowhere is this more true than in Florida, where Jonathan Marchessault — signed to a two-year, $1.5 million deal with a $750,000 cap hit — has been a revelation. The undrafted free agent, who spent time with the Rangers, Blue Jackets and Lightning, has five goals and 10 points through seven games with the Panthers.

    Marchessault is playing on the club’s top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, and leads the Panthers in scoring.

    “It’s been a wonderful find for us,” team president Dale Tallon told Sportsnet. “He’s real tricky and good down low. Sees the ice well. He’s not the biggest guy. Some guys slip through the cracks. Some guys are late bloomers.

    “It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not get drafted.”

    In New York, one of Tallon’s ex-players is providing equally good value.

    Brandon Pirri, who went most of the summer without a contract before signing with the Rangers in August, is off to a terrific start. Inked to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, Pirri has four goals and six points in seven games, and leads the team in power-play markers.

    “I’m glad we’re the ones who got him,” Derek Stepan said, per the Associated Press. “He’s got a knack for the net. It’s not easy to score goals in this league and he seems to be in those areas to score.

    “That’s a difficult thing and, to me, that’s a skill. If you have it, it’s special and it’s rare.”

    Some other under-the-radar signings that have stood out:

    — The backup goalie position in Montreal was a disaster last season, so full credit to GM Marc Bergevin for solving it on the cheap. Al Montoya was brought aboard for $950,000, and all he’s done is go 3-0-1 with a .955 save percentage and 1.47 GAA. He also provided crucial stability at the start of the year, too, when Carey Price was sidelined with the flu.

    — In Dallas, Adam Cracknell has capitalized on the opportunity provided by all the club’s injuries at forward. Signed to a two-way deal with a $600,000 cap hit, 31-year-old has two goals and three points through seven games, appearing in every contest for the Stars this season while averaging over 10 minutes per.

    Patrick Wiercioch, who didn’t even get a qualifying offer from Ottawa, signed with Colorado for $800,000. The 26-year-old d-man has been great offensively, with five points through five games, leading all Avs blueliners in scoring.

    — Speaking of Ottawa, GM Pierre Dorion did well to sign Tom Pyatt out of the Swiss League. Inked to a one-year, two-way deal worth $800,000, Pyatt returned to the NHL after two years abroad and “has been really good for us on both sides of the ice,” according to head coach Guy Boucher. Pyatt has three points through six games and is one of the club’s top penalty killers.