Skip to content

Fehr: “Should the players decide that they don’t want to be in a union, there won’t be a union”

Dec 19, 2012, 2:09 PM EDT

Donald Fehr: Sidney Crosby AP

NHLPA boss Donald Fehr appeared on Sportsnet’s Fan 590 radio Wednesday to discuss the possibility of the players’ union dissolving, and made one thing abundantly clear — if the players want it, they’ll get it.

“Should the players decide that they don’t want to be in a union, there won’t be a union, so it will be the end of that,” Fehr explained. “We’ll be living in a different world. The owners will have to comply with the antitrust laws. Individual players will have whatever rights they have.”

Players are still in the midst of voting to authorize the NHLPA executive board to file a disclaimer of interest — a vote NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly figured would pass “overwhelmingly” in a separate interview on Fan 590.

Daly said mid-January is the point of no return for canceling the NHL season and if the NHLPA does file, it could “prolong any resolution” to the lockout. He also suggested earlier this week that “Don is aiming towards a deadline showdown.”

Not true, says Fehr.

“In terms of a deadline, it’s only the NHL that has been setting deadlines,” he said. “Players have never done that. What could we do? Go on strike? If they see no point in talking and are perfectly happy not to have hockey, there isn’t a lot that we can do.”


Stephen Harper calls lockout “a dangerous situation”

Both sides claim they’re interested in negotiating

CBA update: Nothing

  1. cannonblast14 - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    “In terms of a deadline, it’s only the NHL that has been setting deadlines”

    “IT WASN’T ME I SWEAR. ITS THE OTHER SIDES FAULT!!!”-the entire lockout

    • stakex - Dec 19, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      Pretty much… and thats such an idiot comment from Fehr.

      Obviously the NHL has to set a deadline for the latest possible start to the season. They can’t play a 30 game season, or be playing in August. So its really an a-hole move to try and use that as a negative against the owners.

  2. whatthepuck2012 - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    That’s so cute that they’re still pretending this isn’t a bargaining ploy. Stop insulting our intelligence, ya bastards.

  3. matt8204 - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Of course they have set a deadline, Fehr. Number one, maybe it will create some urgency to get a deal done. Number two, there is a point when it’s no longer feasible to have a legitmate season. What do you want? A 29-game round robin format where each team plays everyone else in the league once?

    • ibieiniid - Dec 19, 2012 at 4:07 PM


      even better, 29 double-headers. that’s precisely how we get our 58-game season.

  4. tfaltin - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Same old war of words we’ve heard since the late summer. After all of this can anyone tell me what the point of posturing is? It’s been well-practiced throughout this process and we are where we are today. Everytime one of these guys flaps their gums, it sets the process back another few days. At the end of the day, public opinion is not going to decide this dispute, so take my advice and stop trying to make Fehr look bad (he does it on his own), and give up portraying the owners as self-serving money worshippers (they do that on their own as well). Treat the fans with some respect and give us what we want. Hockey, not words.

    • matt8204 - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      And does any fan really give a rip what side “wins” this? We just want hockey. This PR garbage (NHL hiring Frank Luntz) is laughable. The owners and players will still be far richer than most of us when the dust settles, regardless of who blinks first.

    • boatinb - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Amen brother!

  5. cspsrbums - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    This is still on the owners

  6. cspsrbums - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    There was a better way to start this process rather then strong arming the players

    • matt8204 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      Fair point. Their first offer was ridiculous. I know negotiating starts by proposing things you don’t really expect to get and you ratchet down from there, but did they really expect the players to take kindly to an offer of 43 percent of HRR?

      • rockyspond - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        The PA is simply posturing ( or very immature ) about the 43%. After all, that is precisely the share the owners got out of the last CBA. If they really believe 43% was good for the owners ( who have to pay all the expenses ) then why was it such an insult to the players ?

      • woodstakes - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:24 PM

        rocky that’s a fair point, however the PA didn’t ask the owners to come down from 57% to 43% in the last lockout. That figure was agreed upon I would suppose since the PA agreed to a salary cap being instituted. The reason the 43% offer was probably received as an insult is the fact the PA believes the owners received virtually everything they asked for in the last lockout and that this 1st offer in appearance at least looked as if they were looking to do the same this time around. Meaning the PA was probably hoping for a realistic 1st offer that would lead to the 50/50 or 52/48 both sides probably thought was going to be a realistic end point. The contract issues were, albeit needing to be dealt with however, the overreach into moving FA age up a year was just another slap that was not needed. The bottom line is the players felt like the ownership in particular Bettman got everything they wanted last time and are back for more.

        The owners could have made a 1st offer that was way more reasonable and not adding to this ideology of the players resentment they felt already, meanwhile moving things along much faster and easier. But instead they decided to fuel that fire and we are where we are now. Because, in my humble opinion they decided to take a shot at their pride and tried to show the ‘cattle’ that it’s the rancher who is in charge, actually believing that the ‘cattle’ would not stampede and believing even if they did the ‘cattle’ would need to be fed this season and would not starve themselves for a full season over it. Apparently they were wrong!

    • duster1982 - Dec 20, 2012 at 8:27 AM

      who cares how the process was started at this point? If the players still hold a grudge over a proposal that simply flipped how much each side was getting (which makes sense to get to a middle point) then they are the ones to blame for the lack of a deal.

  7. kalfut321 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Terrible situation both sides should have their heads examined I love the sport their are other venues to enjoy the sport. Where the people play for the love of the game. Not money.

    • matt8204 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      I agree. I went to a Trenton Titans ECHL game last Saturday. I enjoyed it just as much as any NHL game I’ve been to. Hockey is hockey. Even if the level of play isn’t at the NHL level (didn’t expect it to be), it’s still a great sport to watch.

  8. voltron217 - Dec 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Cspsrbums your a moron. If you blame the owners I’m guessing your a lazy overpaid underworked union worker or government employee. The players make too much money for a sport that is surpassed by darts on espn. Only few teams make good money and until the NHL can become as popular as the nfl, nba, MLB it’s players can’t expect to get paid like it you retard. It’s supply and demand. There’s little demand for $200 tickets to one of 82 games in order to pay these players.

    • woodstakes - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:41 PM

      Ticket prices are not realistic to ‘supply and demand’ as you are stating it. Look at ticket prices around the league… Toronto can charge virtually any amount they want because they have such a demand for tickets for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in quite some time. Meanwhile a team like Phoenix (a playoff team) charges down to $30 or even less just to get people in the door, so they have very little demand for tickets. Meanwhile they both pay about the same amount in salary to their players. So salary has actually VERY LITTLE to do with what the price of tickets are being sold for.

      As for the players getting paid like the players in other leagues.. perhaps you’d like to do a little research on that. Top players in NHL make $8M-$10M a year, meanwhile top players in all the other leagues make $20M-$30M a year. If your going to throw revenue differences out, well look back at what top players in the NFL and MLB were being paid when they’re revenues were around $3 Billion a year. You’ll find top players were getting paid around what the top players in the NHL are being paid.

      While I agree with you about the players getting paid to much money for what they do, the reality is if these leagues are going to generate these types of revenues than the players should get paid accordingly. Why, is it ok for the owners in these leagues to get richer meanwhile its not ok for the product of these leagues to get rich as well?? Its not a fair comparison to compare normal unions with PA’s. The PA’s represent the 1% of the best of what they do, normal unions represent the 99%’ers out there. Also, the normal unions represent the people who are employed by a company NOT the product of those companies, there’s a very big difference. IT’s very clear you hate unions for whatever reason, my guess you’ve never been in one, but you have every right to feel that way. I for one feel like unions are not what they once were and may have outgrown they’re usefulness. However, to many people treat PA’s as being the same as normal unions when in reality they are way more dissimilar than they are similar.

      • woodstakes - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        In fairness I DO understand that many of these owners are NOT getting richer, it’s more of a philosophical question than a realistic one. My bet being that you feel the same way about say owners in the NFL or MLB as well.

      • blomfeld - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

        Woodstakes – very written friend ! :)

      • blomfeld - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:46 PM

        sorry Woodstakes … meant to say very well written …

  9. voltron217 - Dec 19, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Not to mention how the owners put the players in 5 star hotels, give them free food and an allowance on away trips all at the expense of the owners. Maybe the players should pay for that since the owners are greedy rich guys.

    • manchestermiracle - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      It’s called competing for services rendered. The owners’ biggest competition in signing players are other owners. If they can’t offer contracts in line with their finances and overpay just to beat out another owner for a player’s services, how do you blame the employee for that?

    • smssr68 - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      As per its request, Oilers ownership is speaking in front of Edmonton city councilors today in hopes that negotiations for a new $450 million downtown arena can be restarted.

      In October, the city called off talks in the wake of the Katz Group’s request for an additional $6 million annual operating subsidy.

      Today, after stating the Oilers were “stunned” at the city’s decision to cease talks, Katz Group executive John Karvellas said the $6 million request has been withdrawn. Instead, he proposed that any extra tax revenue (beyond expectations) collected from the arena district be given to the club.

      There also remains the matter of the $100 million shortfall that the city and the Oilers are hoping the province will provide in some form or another.

      For all the scintillating details, the Edmonton Journal is covering the meeting here. It’s a bit like a City of Glendale meeting, except it’s colder outside.
      Heres an example of owners assuming all the risk for you(sarcasm in case you don’t understand).

  10. id4joey - Dec 19, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    According to a well known ex coach, “Done deal!” Players will report to camp on or near Jan 1st and the season will start on or near Jan 10.

    Pat Brisson is calling the payers he represents telling them to be ready. He had a private conversation with Fehr, and played a huge role to bring both sides to the table.

  11. sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Hey Donald,

    Here’s reality, if a CBA is NOT completed by January 5th, the NHL should cancel the season. Yes, the drop dead date is the 5th of January, because it will take three weeks for the teams to get ready for a 48 game schedule. Remember, teams need a week to sign their restrictive players, along with any free agents. Then, the clubs will need two weeks to complete a revised training camp. This is professional hockey, not a charity tournament. The 25th is the key date, it’s Saturday. Games could start at 1 PM, 4 PM, 7 PM, and 10:30 PM. That’s it boys, you have until January 5th to establish an agreement. Otherwise, you can start living like the 99 percent crowd. I wouldn’t surprised that your GUARANTEED contracts will be null and void in next CBA agreement. Piss and whine all you want, that’s reality. Stop the Whining!

  12. sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    Bill Daly takes the clothes off. He takes out the Fehr bothers. Unfortunately, Gary suffers a heart attack.

  13. sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Correction: Takes the gloves off.

    • blomfeld - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

      Sportsfan69 – Just wondering friend what your favorite Schwarzenegger movie is ? For me it’s still “Commando” which was the quintessential “Arnie” movie of all time in my opinion ! :)

      • sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM

        Predator is first, then Commando, Running Man, Total Recall, True Lies, Eraser, Conan the Barbarian movies, Kindergarten Cop (The One liners),and the End of Days. :)

  14. voltron217 - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Woodstakes your making my point about salaries! Phoenix has a similar cap because of the cap floor plus have to be competitive but can only charge $30 because any higher less than what they have would go . But in order for Phoenix to profit they’d have to charge much higher prices i.e. there isn’t the demand for it and that why the owners want a bigger share. Not every city is Toronto. I’m from buffalo and we lose an average of 2-3 million a year if we don’t make the playoffs before we got a new owner who stated he doesn’t care about making money, just winning and spent a ton the past year and a half so I can’t imagine how much there losing now.

    • woodstakes - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      I don’t see how i’m making your point for you. You say that Toronto’s ticket prices are where they are in order to pay the salaries. Yet virtually NO ONE else in the NHL charges those prices. They can charge those prices due to demand. Other places charge less in order to get people in the door. The salaries have very little to do with supply and demand. Look the reality is the reason these other leagues thrive is because they have a true revenue sharing system in place.

      Look at what the NY Yankee’s, Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers, NY Giants, Pit Steelers, NE Patriots and the like ALL pay out in revenue sharing… they pay out a TON!! Why, did they agree to do this.. for the GROWTH of the GAME!! When teams like Cleveland, Minnesota, Phoenix, Seattle, Carolina in the NFL and teams like Minnesota, Tampa Bay, KC in MLB were all struggling due to mostly stadium issues but also drawing people to games. They decided to stand up these teams with those teams that have large revenue streams until they could get good stadiums, the ability to attract good players and pay them to ‘market value’ as set by the rest of the league setting those values (by what the rest of the league pays similar players), as it works in a CBA. Even after helping these teams through the struggles the elites STILL have to share year after year after year.. BUT they do it in order for the game to grow. Why do you think the NFL makes $9 Billion and MLB $7 billion… because the rich teams make sure the bottom teams can still get buy and compete. Albeit the system in MLB is VASTLY different than that of the NFL, however there is sharing going on along with a luxury tax for those teams spending the most every year.

      If you believe that 7% or even if the players accepted the 14% that the NHL first offered would SAVE ANY of these teams your wrong. There needs to either be more sharing from the top or the contraction of teams that can’t make it. Because owners are going to pay whatever they have to pay in order to try to win a cup. They always have and they always will. By doing so they themselves drive these salaries up and up. The owners want it both ways and they can’t do it. NOT as long as there are teams that are dying all over the place. So bottom line is if you want to keep these teams where they are and possibly expand into the NW US and back into Canada then you better find a way to keep these teams afloat and the players are not the issue. Its the owners themselves and their GM’s who keep paying more and more. Until they are willing to walk away from the good/great players ‘market value’ prices and say “Nope, that’s to much!” and they all do it it WILL NEVER CHANGE!

  15. sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Oh my, I almost forgot the Terminator Movies and Red Heat. I can’t forget Red Heat for our Russian friends.

  16. sportsfan69 - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Oh my, I almost forgot the Terminator Movies and Red Heat. I can’t forget Red Heat for our Russian friends.

    • blomfeld - Dec 20, 2012 at 1:23 AM

      I agree Tovarisch ! :)

  17. acieu - Dec 20, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    Complex problems seldom have single solutions. Just as a reduction in labor costs is not “the solution” neither is revenue sharing the sole solution. Are there enough teams making money that would allow meaningful revenue sharing? The game to us with passion about hockey is the most
    exciting in the world. To Canada with our rapidly changing demographics the percentage of fans of the game and participants in it are declining. In our great neighbors to the south it is being replaced by demographics and traditional regionalism and by horror or horrors soccer. So three solutions may help stabilize the game:
    1) A long term contract, 8-10 years with 50/50 revenue split ;
    2) a maximum contract length or some non guaranteed amount in the out years call it the Redding clause; and
    3) relocation and contraction of franchises that can’t make money under the new CBA unless an owner like our friend in Buffalo wants to sign the checks.

    Canada can absorb teams in Quebec, GTA or Hamilton. Although if I am Buffalo and Toronto why do I give up my territory without massive compensation? Seattle with an arena may be promising and or Hartford. In any case there is a framework for solidifying the league.

    Lastly complain all you want about past mistakes on expansion to the US south but Bettman didn’t preside over the moves. His biggest Waterloo has been Phoenix but Basile may not have been a financial savior anyway given his company’s financial meltdown. In any case the game requires massive restructuring. Management timidity in the time of crisis and the Unions lack of big picture economics will ensure we do this all again. As Einstein said I think about discovery of the atom. To paraphrase. We stand at the fork of the road. One path leads to destruction, misery, confusion and degradation. The other to total annilation. May we have the wisdom to chose wisely.

  18. acieu - Dec 20, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    And revenue sharing as much as possible.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1874)
  2. P. Kane (1659)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1362)
  4. M. Richards (1361)
  5. N. Backstrom (1220)