What’s been rumored for months seems like it’s on the verge of being officially true: the NHL Players Association is reportedly “very likely” to name Donald Fehr its new head in the next 24 hours.
In case you didn’t follow the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike, Fehr was the leader of baseball’s union at time. The strike disgusted many, but eventually, Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive games streak and the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase helped hardball bounce back.
That being said, Fehr’s name evokes fear for an obvious reason: his name is associated with that strike.
Considering the highly damaging effects of the NHL lockout which erased the 2004-05 season, it’s understandable that many in the hockey world cringed when they learned that Fehr might run the NHLPA.
It’s hard to fault the players, though, as they haven’t had a firmly entrenched leader since Bob Goodenow. For better or worse – for the game and for themselves – the players got just that. We’ll just have to wait and see if this ends up being good news or not.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?
News and notes from around the crease…
Jones goes for San Jose
Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.
Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.
For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.
Markstrom out for Vancouver
Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.
Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.
For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.
Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier
Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford