Donald Fehr, NHLPA a Match Made in Union Heaven?
"He likes working with us," said one NHL player who requested anonymity. "He has said it to me, many of the other players around the league and the staff in Toronto. One time, Donald said, 'I was told that once I started working with hockey players, I would enjoy it and wouldn't be in a rush to leave.' It's a mutual admiration society. He seems to be inspired and likes working with us, and we really, really need his leadership."
It appears Fehr is on his way. The Sports Business Journal reported Wednesday night that the former director of the Major League Baseball Players Association has been tapped as the NHLPA's new director. The hockey players' union has been without an executive director since Paul Kelly was fired last August.
Fehr will be a short-term, but invaluable, leader for a union that has often been rudderless and marred by in-fighting over the last few years. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in the NHL offseason of 2012. The recent Ilya Kovalchuk disaster, in which the NHL won decisively in arbitration while the NHLPA looked anything but decisive, has exposed the union's lack of fight.
The 63-year-old Fehr, who ran the MLBPA for 26 years, will provide the hockey players with the experience, smarts and guile they need. While the NHLPA has released a statement stating that the search process is ongoing, Fehr's coronation is a formality that will only need some time. According to a source, Fehr will personally reach out to membership -- possibly with a visit to each team after rosters are finalized in early October. Then he will have their votes as the Donald Fehr era of NHL union management will officially begin.