Fehr: “the players aren’t afraid of a lockout”

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NHLPA chief Donald Fehr spoke to reporters Friday in Toronto, and while he reiterated his optimism that a lockout can still be avoided before the CBA’s expiration on Sept. 15, he also sent a message to the owners that if it’s a game of chicken they want, it’s a game of chicken they’ll get.

“Look, the players aren’t afraid of a lockout, let me start with that,” Fehr said, as per the National Post. “You’d have to have had your head in the sand not to remember what happened seven years ago, and not to understand what happened with football and basketball. Everybody understands what can happen.”

So far, the players have been universally and enthusiastically supportive of Fehr’s leadership.

“Don is such a good communicator,” said Flyers forward Max Talbot. “You should see a room when he talks. He keeps our focus for four hours straight.”

“As smart as Don is, he does a good job of explaining it in a not-so-smart-kind of way,” Phoenix forward Paul Bissonnette said. “He uses simple words, and he’s not going all hardcore lawyer on us.”

Bissonnette added: “And he just talked about, basically, what they want, and showed us that they pretty much have no backup for what they’re talking about. He gave us a lot of information. He’s on the ball. He’s pretty witty. He’s funny. So he keeps us engaged.”

Of course, what will be interesting to see is how supportive players remain of Fehr should paychecks start getting lost. Google “NHLPA” and “mutiny” and you get quite a few results from 2005.

At this point, all we can hope is the union’s resolve won’t have to be tested like last time.

If it is, Fehr better hope it doesn’t result in comments like this one from an unnamed player in 2005:

“I am thoroughly embarrassed with the union. We’ve been preaching for five months that we’re not going to accept a cap and then we have the rug pulled out from under us at the end.

“How the hell do you think I feel? What did we go through all this for? We come out and propose a hard cap at the end. That was something we said we would never accept. I just can’t believe it.”

(Yeah, the PA was a bit of a mess back then.)