Skip to content

Should the players accept a Fehr-less meeting with the owners?

Nov 30, 2012, 12:43 PM EDT

Donald Fehr: Sidney Crosby AP

Yesterday, after two days of failed mediation, news broke that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had proposed to NHLPA chief Donald Fehr that the players and owners get together without Bettman and Fehr in the room.

The idea was that the removal of the two leaders, each of which has drawn the ire of the other side (and that’s putting it lightly), would reduce the animosity at the bargaining table.

At least, that’s how the league sold it.

“We want to find a way to get to a deal,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “Nothing else has worked. The commissioner felt that we might as well propose something different. We will see how they respond.”

For fans, the proposal was a welcome one. If that’s the way a deal gets done, do it. (And if that doesn’t work, flip a coin or have an arm wrestle. Anything to end this ridiculous lockout.)

But is it the right move for the players? After all, these are not sophisticated deal-makers; they play hockey for a living. Without Fehr, who’s going to look out for them?

Yahoo!’s Nick Cotsonikas thinks it’s a risk the players have to take.

This smells like a trap. After two sessions with U.S. federal mediators went nowhere, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made a suggestion Thursday – a meeting between owners and players only.

It seems like a PR move. It seems like another negotiating tactic designed to go around NHL Players’ Association leadership, like when the league gave executives a secret window to explain a proposal to players. It seems like a mismatch – seasoned businessmen vs. hockey players.

But they’ve got to try, at least under certain conditions. Joining the nobles is the only hope for the season. You know what happens if they don’t take this chance?

Nothing.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News disagrees:

Look for player-friendly owner representatives such as Mario Lemieux and John Davidson to be very prominent in these meetings if they take place. They have an enormous amount of credibility with the players and Lemieux, the NHL likely believes, has an enormous amount of sway over Sidney Crosby. And if a star such as Crosby begins to cave, then perhaps others will follow.

Which is why, from this corner, it makes very little sense for the players to allow this to happen. They hired Fehr precisely to do what he has done so far to the owners and it has been a brilliant tactic. And as far as the players have been concerned, Fehr has been the equivalent of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, constantly being flanked by grim looking superstars at every photo opportunity.

Dealing directly with owners has always represented an enormous disadvantage for the players. That’s why they have agents to negotiate their contracts for them. And that’s why they have Fehr to do their dirty work for them.

The NHLPA has yet to accept or decline the league’s offer.

If it does accept, the next step would be determining the format of the meeting, as well as who’s invited.

“It might be helpful if we can get some other owners in the room,” Pittsburgh forward Craig Adams told the Post-Gazette.

(Translation: Owners besides Jeremy Jacobs, Ted Leonsis, Murray Edwards and Craig Leipold.)

If it declines, the next step may be decertification.

Latest Posts
  1. More bad news for slumping Wings as Sheahan (upper body) out

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT

    RileySheahan2 Getty Images

    Joins Pavel Datsyuk and Erik Cole on the shelf.

  2. Goalie nods: Make it 33 straight for Dubnyk

    Mar 27, 2015, 2:23 PM EDT

    Devan Dubnyk AP

    News and notes from around the crease…

  3. Caps’ Wilson the latest to be fined for diving

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Tom Wilson Getty Images

    Washington sophomore now $2,000 lighter in the pocket.

  4. Once again, Canucks forced to put bad loss ‘in the garbage can’

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    Vancouver laid another egg last night versus the Avs.

  5. How many starts does the Hamburglar have left?

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT

    Andrew Hammond AP

    Because things aren’t trending in a good direction for him.

  6. Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT

    Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Andrej Sekera AP

    Three straight road wins has the Kings looking postseason-bound.

  7. Blues confirm Elliott will be playoff starter

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

    Brian Elliott AP

    “We’re on the course that we set two months ago when we made the decision that Ells was going to be the guy, and we’re not changing that course.”

  8. Nichushkin, out since November, moves closer to rejoining red-hot Stars

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT

    Valeri Nichushkin Valeri Nichushkin

    Russian sophomore has missed nearly the entire season with a hip ailment.

  9. Caps’ Orlov (finally) set to return to game action

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Dmitry Orlov Getty Images

    He’s been assigned to Hershey on a conditioning assignment.

  10. Report: Flyers’ Pronger eligible for HHOF

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Changes to the bylaws allow the Philly defenseman to be inducted.

  11. Report: A formal announcement expected ‘soon’ regarding Vegas expansion

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:50 AM EDT

    Las Vegas Getty Images

    The group is nearing its goal of securing 10,000 season ticket deposits.

  12. Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT

    Mar 26, 2015, 9:48 PM EDT

    Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    The real winners might be the Edmonton Oilers.

Featured video

Hammond leads Ottawa's turnaround
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. E. Malkin (2419)
  2. P. Datsyuk (2358)
  3. H. Lundqvist (2185)
  4. D. Byfuglien (2028)
  5. B. Little (1892)