NHL: Fehr set to take over command over the NHLPA

By Douglas Smith

Former executive director of the baseball players union, Donald Fehr, is being touted as the heir for the same position with the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA). Although no official release from the NHLPA as of yet, this often rumored appointment should be certified in the coming days. Liz Mullen was among the first to report this.

Immediate thoughts of fans will move to a lockout as the lasting impression of Fehr as a no holds barred negotiator for the baseball players association and the 1994 lockout and strike. This was the third stoppage in just over twenty years, but it was one that would ultimately cancel the World Series. Fehr presided in this post for 26 years but the strike/lockout year was the most tumultuous.

The facts and figures of Fehr’s reign negotiating for the baseball players are staggering. The average player salary was over $3million dollars and the players union was against mandatory drug testing despite heavy evidence of performance enhancing substance use. The union’s power grew as a salary cap system was thrown aside and revenue-sharing with outrageous player salaries became the norm. It was fairly clear at this time the baseball players were all buying into what Fehr was saying and it paid off in their pockets. Some may say that the current lack of parody in the major leagues is due to the revenue sharing system, frequently pointing fingers at the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox. However, small market teams like the Minnesota Twins still find themselves competing every year.

The player representatives will still have to vote on this decision, as James Mirtle explains. Fehr works hard for the players, so votes should not be an issue. With the recent developments surrounding Ilya Kovalchuk and the NHL looking into past contracts, this appointment becomes very intriguing. There is time to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, but the name Donald Fehr will instantly bring up memories of a lost season. Still as hockey fans, take a deep breath, enjoy the coming season, and keep the faith.

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