It’s amazing to me how the NHLPA is coming under an incredible amount of fire the past few days after the news broke that Donald Fehr is being courted as the next executive director. Instantly, everyone’s thoughts turned to the MLB player’s strike in 1994; now that Fehr could become the leader of the NHLPA, of course this means a player’s strike in 2012 is inevitable, right?
Not a chance.
In fact, I’d argue that a person with Fehr’s experience and background is exactly what the NHLPA needs. Some say his lack of a hockey background is hurtful to the NHL and the player’s association, but there are times when an outsider’s view and a brand new voice can help more than someone who’s been in with the same crowd year after year.
It’s not like things can get any worse. The NHLPA is a laughing stock right now, with a mess of a command structure after the majority of senior personnel lost the past year’s turnover. The PA tried to strong arm the NHL when the league wanted to institute and rule change and the NHL basically swatted them aside and said, “We’ll do it anyway because we can! We just asked you to be nice.”
The NHL came out of it looking like they just wanted to help the players, while the NHLPA appeared to be just a group of petulant players who couldn’t make their minds up about a rule change they always wanted anyways. Apparently the NHLPA is supposed to immediately acquiesce to any and all rule changes made by the league.
The NHLPA needs strong leadership, and there’s no doubt that Fehr would provide the strong hand the players and agents have been looking for. After a presentation to the NHLPA yesterday by Fehr on a new constitution, it became obvious that he is the man everyone wants for the job. From David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail:
“After hearing [Fehr’s] presentation, let’s just say there is no one
else who can hold his jockstrap if he decides to do it,” said one agent,
who did not want to be named.
This isn’t some power move by the NHLPA to hire a guy who will ensure a strike takes place down the line. In fact, Fehr is perhaps the best person possible to ensure that doesn’t happen, at least from the player’s standpoint.
Let the calls for doom and gloom continue, but you can’t fault the PA for acting to try and rectify an insanely messy situation. The league cannot