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The NHL Can’t Get A Read On Fehr

from Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly,

Do the owners realize NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr brought Major League Baseball to its knees, had the 1994 World Series cancelled, and yet rebuilt the labor force there to the most successful sports union of its kind, one that has achieved labor peace ever since?
“The league was up against rank amateurs last time,” said one person intimately familiar with the inner workings of the NHL.
“This guy is the consummate pro. Cool Hand Luke. He has no tell. A great poker face. Has buy-in from the players. And rarely dabbles in rhetoric.
“If he does, there’s a message and a purpose behind it. And the league has no idea what do with a guy like this.”
Is it too obvious to ask whether Gary Bettman and his owners underestimated Fehr’s influence over his group and resolve to see matters through, regardless of consequence?
“I don’t know, I certainly hope not,” Fehr told CSNPhilly.com when asked last week if the league had discounted his resolve.

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink


J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t think the league is having much difficulty reading Fehr. At this point, we’re simply down to a test of wills between the owners and the players.

I think the league is trying to keep Fehr out of meetings because he’s incredibly good at turning their own logic back on them; they found a guy against whom the only negotiating tactic which works is earnest negotiation. At this point, they’re just trying to see if the players will break and tell Fehr to get a deal done before trouble among the governors does the same to them.

I do believe that the NHL is working from the more-stable position in this waiting game and that it’s more likely the players will crack before the league does, but just because there’s a favorite and an underdog doesn’t mean the less-likely thing won’t happen.

I mean… that’s why you play the game.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/28/12 at 09:56 AM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Panaccio is a Clownfart

The NHL knows EXACTLY what Fehr is about

Posted by Evilpens on 10/28/12 at 11:03 AM ET


The NHL knows EXACTLY what Fehr is about

If they know exactly what he’s about then how come they’e trying to strong-arm and bully the PA as if they were being led by the same cloud of vapour that led them last time?

Posted by Garth on 10/28/12 at 11:08 AM ET


I really question what they are teaching in journalism school. Whether it is coverage of this work stoppage, or politics, or entertainment and even the weather, the “journalist”  just make shit up.

Posted by timbits on 10/28/12 at 01:30 PM ET


Panaccio is part of the reason why flyers hired a really good flyers beat writer from philly subs to cover the team. Panaccio is horrible writer.

Posted by FlyersFan on 10/28/12 at 07:55 PM ET


Look, if the NHL didn’t know Fehr was a master negotiation and outright Pirate King of the Seven Seas… I’d be amazed.

Fehr is twenty times the negotiator and maneuverer Bettman ever could be.

The problem is, none of that matters.  Fehr being wildly better at his job than Bettman only matters if Bettman allows himself to get led off the road and jumped on in the weeds.

It’s not impossible that might happen, of course, but as long as Bettman just keeps it simple (all I will take is a 50-50 split of old HRR defintions, my fingers are in my ears, I can’t hear you, lalalalalala) it’s just a matter of time until the NHLPA breaks and he gets it.

Fehr just doesn’t have the leverage he had in MLB.  The financial gain to busting the NHLPA down to 50-50 outweighs the financial loss of missing a whole season.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/28/12 at 09:49 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

With most of the talent on board with European teams (or KHL teams), I don’t think the league has that much leverage over the NHLPA. The league doesn’t exist without the players. The converse isn’t true; players can exist without this league.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 10/29/12 at 10:42 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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