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. Islanders ink Anders Lee to a four-year, $15 million extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 06: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Rexall Place on March 06, 2014 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Getty Images

    He was set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

  2. Wings buy out Weiss after two rocky seasons

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:27 PM EDT

    Stephen Weiss Getty Images

    Detroit’s creating an opportunity for one of its young forwards.

  3. Trade: Oilers get Korpikoski from Coyotes for Gordon

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT

    Lauri Korpikoski Getty Images

    Arizona is getting back its former center.

  4. Saad, Jackets working on an extension ‘as we speak’

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT

    Brandon Saad Brandon Saad

    He’s set to become a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

  5. Report: Richards’ border incident involved oxycodone

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:36 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers Getty Images

    He hasn’t been charged with a crime, but is reportedly being investigated.

  6. Ducks stay busy, name former Adams winner MacLean assistant coach

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    Paul MacLean AP

    Won NHL’s coach of the year in 2013 with Ottawa.

  7. Trade: Bieksa headed to California — but it’s Anaheim, not San Jose

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT

    Kevin Bieksa Getty Images

    Where he’ll be reunited with former teammate Ryan Kesler.

  8. Treliving, Flames not concerned about ‘noise’ coming out of Boston

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Brad Treliving Brad Treliving

    Calgary’s GM responded to comments in a Boston Herald story regarding defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

  9. Trade: Jackets land Saad, Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago

    Jun 30, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Getty Images

    A total of seven players involved in Tuesday’s trade.

  10. Detroit signs Smith to two-year, $5.5 million extension

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Brendan Smith AP

    RFA defenseman appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.

  11. Defensemen Hunwick, Bartkowski to become UFAs

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven Getty Images

    Rangers and Bruins let their respective rearguards walk, thereby deepening the free agent pool.

  12. Hamilton signs six-year deal with Flames

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:04 PM EDT

    Dougie Hamilton AP

    Cap hit around $5.75 million.

  13. No buyout: Flyers will keep Gagner

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    Former first-round pick is relieved after a “stressful” last few days.

  14. Habs re-sign deadline pickup Flynn: two years, $1.9 million

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:14 PM EDT

    Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs Getty Images

    Former Buffalo forward had three points in six playoff games for Montreal.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Hamilton (2296)
  2. C. Talbot (2065)
  3. R. O'Reilly (2025)
  4. M. Richards (1928)
  5. S. Gagner (1855)
  1. R. Lehner (1704)
  2. E. Etem (1662)
  3. M. Lucic (1598)
  4. A. Niemi (1579)
  5. K. Letang (1464)