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The NHLPA drags its feet, doesn't approve or reject Donald Fehr's bid to lead players union

Sep 2, 2010, 6:50 PM EST

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for donald fehr.jpgSome things never change (or if they do, those changes take ages to happen). One of the sad constants in hockey is that the NHL Players Association cannot seem to avoid tripping over its own feet.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that the player representatives somehow failed to take a vote to reject or approve Donald Fehr’s nomination to be the organization’s leader during a Wednesday conference call. My guess is that the players had more important things to discuss, like … their summer tans and newly acquired yachts, maybe?

One interesting bit of information comes in the form of Fehr’s list of demands, which Brooks passed along in that article. Surprisingly, he didn’t ask for a jar of yellow peanut M&Ms before every concert.

- Salary of $3 million per year to run through completion of collective bargaining after the current CBA expires following the 2011-12 season.

- Salary of $1.5 million for the remainder of this year.

- Ability to hire his brother, Steve Fehr, currently special counsel to the MLBPA after 23 years as outside counsel to the baseball players’ union, to an executive position.

- Autonomy relating to all personnel decisions within the union.

- Ability to live in New York.

- Permission to co-author a book about baseball with his brother, Steve.

- Permission to open a consulting firm, though with the express stipulation that his first priority at all times will be the NHLPA.

Hey, say what you might about Donald Fehr, at least he looks out for his brother. To put Fehr’s salary demands into a proper context, here are a few points of comparison from Brooks.

Fehr earned $1 million as executive director of the MLBPA, a position he held for 27 years until he stepped down in 2009. That’s the same salary his successor, Michael Weiner, earns.

Bob Goodenow earned between $3.5-4 million in 2003-04, the last season before the lockout. Sports Business Journal has reported that former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw earned $3 million in 2006 and that NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter received upward of $3.4 million in 2008-09, though that number may reflect bonuses.

I can respect the players’ misgivings in handing such a salary to Fehr, but if he can help clean up their considerable mess, it might be worth the price tag. Then again, a unified players association might increase the chances of a lockout, so picking a side to root for is pretty difficult for hockey fans and writers alike. Ultimately, I think we can all agree that a strike would be a true disaster for a league (and sport) that is still fighting to regain its pre-lockout place in the athletic marketplace.

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