Donald Fehr

NHLPA wanted more answers before approving realignment


When news broke that the NHLPA withheld its consent of the NHL’s radical realignment plan, it seemed stunning and many went into Chicken Little lockout mode. The more you think about, the more it seemed a little brazen that the league expected the players to almost blindly approve such a big change, though.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told that the players association wanted more answers than the league seemed willing to give.

For one thing, they wanted more information about travel, but it seemed that the NHL didn’t go beyond vagaries.

“After some initial information transfers,” said Fehr, “it became clear that there would be increased travel but it was unclear as to how much and which clubs and we asked for some sample schedules and (the NHL) said those could not be provided.”

Taking that comment at face value, it’s surprising that the NHL wouldn’t give players a better idea about what new schedules would look like. Then again, maybe there was a concern that they would be held to such hypothetical examples once negotiation time came.

As you may have heard, the playoff setup (which involved four teams coming from each conference even though two conferences would include seven teams while two others would include eight) was a big sticking point. Players wanted to discuss that issue, but that door was closed as well, according to Fehr.

“The players wanted to talk to (the NHL) about the playoff issue,” Fehr said. “We didn’t intend to pre-judge what the results of those conversations would be. The commissioner’s office said they were not in the position to have those discussions and I fully respect that, they’re certainly entitled to take that view.”

It’s often tough to determine what’s truthful and what is just P.R. speak, but if Fehr’s telling the truth, then perhaps the NHL could have done more to inform everyone involved about what is honestly a dramatic change. Personally, I cannot totally blame the teams in the eight-team conferences from feeling slighted. In an age of the salary cap and the significant parity that comes with it, having to beat out three teams instead of four can be a big advantage.

Let’s face it, though; most of us are just taking the “Do what you have to do, but for the love of all that is sacred just don’t have another lockout!” stance. Still, if you’re the type to take sides, the mood might be shifting ever so slightly toward the players’ side.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.