Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: donald fehr
USA Today's Kevin Allen and Erik Brady penned a fascinating article about the ways in which the role of a professional sports commissioner has changed during the tenure of outgoing MLB commissioner Bug Selig, sourcing comments from Selig, his predecessor, Fay Vincent, preeminent sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, former MLBPA executive director and current NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and a certain Mark Cuban (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell chose to decline an interview).
The article both traces Selig's path and sets a greater historical context for the role of a sports commissioner and how it's evolved since Selig took the job in 1992...
"If you go back, (sports) talk radio was in its infancy, there was no Internet, no mobile, less television coverage, no out-of-market packages to speak of, there was no social media and digital platforms," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told USA TODAY Sports. "That's a longwinded way of saying there is more to do. … To be a commissioner you always had to multi-task. But there are now multiple tasks, compared to what there were."
And aside from spending a significant amount of text pointing out that it's not the commissioner who is "in charge" per se--it's the owners who any and every sports commissioner represents, and the owners' interests that he proffers--Bettman, who took the reins from John Ziegler, very specificially tells Allen and Brady about the evolution of the commissioner's position:
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Pierre LeBrun: Where does this go after Sochi in terms of future NHL Olympic participation? Every single player we've talked to here at the Games wants to remain involved. We all understand it's more complicated than that, but ...
Donald Fehr: It's always an issue to have to shut down a business for a length of time. It's always a greater issue when you're shutting the business at a point in time in which the substitute product, if you will, is not prime time back to the areas that you are. There's always people [who] worry about the additional games and the injury risk and so on.
And the question is a couple things: Is this something that NHL players should do because it's good for the game overall, good for worldwide marketing and approach and all the rest of it? It is a question as to what the players would like and prefer to do.
And then it's the question of negotiating the details and arrangements to make sure we can make it work. People have a tendency, I think, of thinking I'm being cagey or holding my cards close to my vest. But in fact, what we'll do is that after this is over, we'll let it digest for a while; we'll begin to talk to the players; we'll talk to the parents; we'll see what kind of reaction federations had.
And then, I'm sure, at our executive board meeting this summer, we'll have long discussions. And either then or after my meeting with the players in the fall, the players will tell me what they want me to do and then I'll go try and do it. That's basically it.
LeBrun: All 700-plus NHL players are not here in the Olympics. What's always intrigued me is the idea of how rank-and-file players who never get to play in the Olympics really feel about shutting down the game for the Olympics and whether their input is heeded.
from Denis Gorman of Metro New York,
Metro: How would you describe the relationship between the PA and the NHL one year after the lockout?
Fehr: I think the answer to that is “professional.” I think it is direct. Hopefully it is maturing. There is a lot of ongoing communication between our offices as we attempt to complete the agreement and operate. … Hopefully that will continue to develop.
What do you think was the biggest gain for the players in the new CBA?
There were all kinds of things that were in there, all kinds of improvements in working conditions and various kinds and sorts of things. You can talk about what it had been if the union hadn’t been there or the players hadn’t been willing to take the stand that they did. But I will tell you the one that I think on a personal basis was very satisfying and that’s the [pension plan] we have in effect. It covers last year and this year; this is the second year of it. We [think] it’s quite a good thing for players for decades to come, I hope.
You have talked about the future of the sport in positive terms. Where do you see the league headed in the next five to 10 years, and how does that compare to the NFL, NBA and MLB?
The CBC's Elliotte Friedman's graced our Monday evening with a "30 Thoughts" column. He begins with the P's and Q's of a shootout spin-o-rama (see: Mason Raymond) vs. ettiquette (If you "snow" a goalie, should that be a penalty? And the Globe and Mail offers a superb visual explanation of what constitutes an "illegal" shootout move), and he continues from there.
Among his thoughts:
1. Looked a little bit into Ken Holland's overtime suggestion: four minutes of four-on-four, followed by four minutes of three-on-three if still tied. Then a shootout if necessary. I love the idea, which was tried at the Traverse City rookie tournament the Red Wings host. One of the reasons against it is the league doesn't want longer games.
from Andrew Gross of the Record,
Now running the NHL Players' Association and not baseball's players' union, Don Fehr could defer all questions on Alex Rodriguez and his looming suspension in the Biogenesis scandal on the basis of not being in the loop.
However, Fehr made it clear that A-Rod had every right to appeal the suspension, something the other 13 players handed bans chose not to do.
"All I can say is that I have complete confidence in the team that's there to represent the players to the best of their ability," Fehr said Thursday at Yankee Stadium as he was on hand for the announcement of outdoor hockey games between the Rangers and Devils on Jan. 26 and the Rangers and Islanders on Jan. 29.
"Any player, if he wants to have a hearing, it's an absolute right to have a hearing and the facts will be what the facts are," Fehr added....
Fehr had little to say when asked about the lack of performance-enhancing drug scandals in hockey, other than the NHLPA was satisfied with hockey's drug-testing program.
"Maybe the culture is different," Fehr said.
a bit more...
Both Donald Fehr and Bill Daly were on SN590 The Fan in Toronto today.
Fehr joined the Jeff Blair Show and Daly appeared on the Hockey Cetnral @ Noon Show.
National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr reaffirmed the solidarity of the NHLPA when he spoke to more than 800 delegates attending the CAW Council in Toronto on Saturday.
Fehr discussed the ongoing NHL lockout, which is on its 84th day, and his confidence in the NHLPA and its members. Those feelings were reciprocated by the players.
NHL free agent defenceman Chris Campoli, who has been heavily involved in CBA talks, was in attendance at Fehr’s speech and said: “He’s our guy, he’s our leader and we believe in him. There’s not going to be a deal without him.”
continued where you can watch three videos from the event and you can also watch the 22 minute speech from Fehr below...
Watch both sessions in one video.
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
The question now being: Why, oh why, did this take so long? Where was this degree of urgency in October? November?
Honestly, it leaves you shaking your head.
If one night of serious discussion with the right people involved is what was needed to trigger meaningful dialogue, both sides should be ashamed — or at least, more ashamed — at the lost prestige, the lost revenue, the lost loyalty.
By barring commissioner Gary Bettman and the Donald, the main protagonists in this nasty business, from the room on Tuesday, unencumbered by their grating, condescending George and Martha/Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? routine, the initial bargaining session lasted for over five hours.
And if there is — fingers remain crossed here — headway made that ultimately leads to a resolution in this unseemly impasse and gets the league back on the ice by New Year’s at the latest, what earthly use are either of them going forward?
The two sides met, deliberated among themselves, broke for chow, convened again. Exhausted media, long bereft of fresh angles with which to fill space or airtime, hung out hobo-like in the hotel lobby, trying to avoid eye-contact with increasingly suspicious hotel staff (The sight of Donald Fehr furtively working his cellphone being enough to induce spasms of activity and conjecture).
TORONTO (December 2, 2012): Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director issued the following statement this evening regarding a meeting between Owners and Players later this week:
“The NHLPA has agreed to a meeting on Tuesday in New York that should facilitate dialogue between Players and Owners. Neither the Commissioner nor I will be present, although each side will have a limited number of staff or counsel present.
There will be Owners attending this meeting who have not previously done so, which is encouraging and which we welcome. We hope that this meeting will be constructive and lead to a dialogue that will help us find a way to reach an agreement.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
If Bettman and Fehr legitimately understand anything about the ethic of the game, then they know about the aforementioned price of failure too.
Fail too often, and especially fail too often in the big moment, and soon enough, somebody else will get their turn.
It’s a ruthless, but fair system, when the stakes are so high. Real hockey people would know the rules going in, and accept them for what they are.
So a modest proposal that echoes comments made by the Florida Panthers’ Kris Versteeg about Bettman and the Washington Capitals’ Roman Hamrlik about Fehr and their respective job futures this past week:
If the two leaders are ultimately unable to come to terms on a new CBA in time to save the 2012-13 season, then both should immediately resign from their respective positions when the cancellation becomes official.
And more importantly, they should pledge their willingness to do so, publicly, now, in the third week of November, before all hope is lost.
NHL leaders need to realize, in a fraction the time it took baseball, that if you go to the mat with a Fehr union, everybody suffers, but you might get it worse. If you work with them, then one day you wake up and Albert Pujols has a $275 million contract and the Dodgers sell for $2 billion.
-Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post and continue to read more about Donald Fehr.
First Donald Fehr, followed by Gary Bettman.
Fehr revealed there were conversations between staff Friday, but no negotiations with the NHL.
The lockout has now reached Day 62. The two sides have been unable to agree on the division of money, proposed changes to player contract rights and who pays for the damange caused by the lockout.
When HNIC Radio asked Fehr about the perception that the league has made more concessions than the union, he took exception.
"I gotta tell ya that it’s a pretty bizarre world in which you would reach the conclusion that the NHL has made the concessions. They asked for massive salary reductions. The players agreed to reduce their salaries over time, even under our initial proposal in a fashion which would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owners.
"And when you measure all the central economic issues and you measure it from the vantage point of the last agreement, has the bargaining moved in the direction of the players or the owners? The answer is it’s moved in the direction of the owners. The only way the owners have made a concession is if you treat seriously the notion that we made a first proposal which was horrible, terrible and miserable, and our second proposal was only horrible and terrible, so we moved in a new direction."
more and you can listen (autoplay is on) to the Fehr interview below...
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
With the lockout on the verge of entering its third month, the Fehr Factor has entered negotiations in a big way. That much has become crystal clear with the NHL’s rising level of frustration in recent days. Negotiating with someone as intelligent and canny as Donald Fehr is difficult at the best of times. The NHL is finding out that when it comes to tactics, one of Fehr’s is to push the buttons of the guys on the other side of the table.
What the league is seeing is Fehr at his absolute best. Several times, he has delayed bargaining sessions with the league. He will occasionally “forget” his notes and get up and leave the table in the middle of an important discussion. This might give him the aura of an absent-minded professor, but chances are it’s all an orchestrated effort designed to frustrate. And by all accounts, it has been a smashing success of late.
And who can blame Fehr for doing that at this point? Are Fehr’s negotiating tactics any more counterproductive to the process than the NHL opening talks with an initial offer that could only be described as laughable? Is it any worse than taking a quick look at a counterproposal and summarily dismissing it within 10 minutes, the way the NHL did in mid-October when the two sides seemed to be gaining some traction?
First Donald Fehr and Bill Daly is below...
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
At the end of the day, I've always believed the players want to play. The league counts on that, too. At the same time, those same players believed teams were going to crack. I've wondered how true that was going to be, but some of them are legitimately concerned about the season.
That seems crazy to hear on Nov. 10. There is no way the season is in any danger -- yet. But, if games aren't started by Dec. 1, it sounds like those in the league who don't want to lose 2012-13 are worried about the hardliners regaining control of the process. And they don't see enough progress being made.
Fehr can see that and he's trying to exploit it. That's why they took a run at him. They want to see if there's any internal dissent, pressure within the NHLPA to push him out.
It's a big game of chicken right now. What we wait to find out is this: did they weaken him, or just make Fehr's position stronger.
more of this which resolves around the 'Russo leak' earlier today...
First Bettman folllowed below by Fehr who is expected to talk again after getting off the phone with players, etc.
I will cover that in another post.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Neither NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman nor NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr has distinguished himself thus far in terms of charting a course to a successful resolution to the current lockout of the NHL’s players.
Strategies on both sides have been at best curious and at worst deeply flawed.
Were it not so, wouldn’t we have had a deal weeks, even months ago? Or at the very least had leadership plotted differently, would we not have seen the current series of in-depth talks, the first of their kind in the process, take place long ago?
There is no shortage of critics of both men, and all you need to do is take a passing glance at Twitter to get a sense of the underlying anger and disappointment at how this has unfolded.
Without going over every burp and hiccup along the way -- and there have been many ominous noises emanating from both sides in this tedious process -- only the significantly brainwashed believe that blame for the current situation lies more squarely on one side than the other.
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
As one player agent told me this week, "With all due respect to Don Fehr, this is when he really earns his money. A barrel full of monkeys could get this to 90 per cent of the way done. Now he's got to take it home."
He started in earnest on Tuesday in Manhattan in a seven-hour meeting at an undisclosed midtown location that was the longest session by far of the 53-day lockout and the longest since negotiations on a new CBA began June 29.
It will be interesting to see if the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association can keep it on the road and get everyone back in one piece. The criticism of Fehr by those opposite him in negotiations has been that he's not a deal maker. He's not one for compromise.
Fehr's response has generally been it takes intransigence to recognize intransigence.
But Fehr's job is a delicate one. He needs to balance the needs of players with interests as diverse as Sidney Crosby, who has a 12-year, $104-million contract at stake with Chris Campoli, an unsigned free agent whose longest deal was his entry-level contract and has been on one-year deals since.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 3:00pm and let's hope it lasts for at least a few hours.
TORONTO (November 2, 2012) – Don Fehr, National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director, today released the following statement:
“The NHL’s decision to cancel the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is unnecessary and unfortunate, as was the owners’ implementation of the lockout itself. The fact that the season has not started is a result of a unilateral decision by the owners; the players have always been ready to play while continuing to negotiate in good faith. We look forward to the league's return to the bargaining table, so that the parties can find a way to end the lockout at the earliest possible date, and get the game back on the ice for the fans.”
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
We're 45 days into the lockout, games have been canceled through Nov. 30, the Winter Classic is days from being axed, the league says $720 million of damage already has been done and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Star Tribune on Monday that it "seems like we are back to Square 1. ... Not sure what we do now."
Considering the two sides have not met since Oct. 18 and no future meetings are on the docket, where does it go from here?
"I don't know the answer, and believe me, I wouldn't keep it to myself if I did," Fehr said.
As players, including several from the Wild who should have been playing the Washington Capitals on Monday night, filed into a ballroom for dinner, Fehr sat down with the Star Tribune to discuss a process that "the longer it goes on, the more frustrating it becomes."
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Gary Bettman’s lost hockey season is Donald Fehr’s wrecked World Series — legacies that haunt the respective heads of the NHL and Players’ Association.
Forget the record revenue generated last season by an NHL that can claim a salary-cap system and a major network broadcast partner. Pay no mind to the organization and unity that only three years ago was unimaginable to anybody associated with the union.
The Stanley Cup was not awarded in 2005. The World Series was not played in 1994.
Bettman, NHL commissioner since 1993, and Fehr, two years into a tenure as NHLPA executive director but owner of that same position with the baseball Players Association from 1986-2009, are as infamous for what they have lost as much as they are famous for what they have gained for the sports with which they are most associated.
from Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times,
Donald Fehr spoke to a few members of the media Friday night at AllState Arena during the first intermission of the Champs for Charity exhibition hockey game.
Fehr spoke to The Washington Times, ESPN The Magazine, The Associated Press, The Chicago Sun-Times, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, The Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald. Here is the full transcript:
On cancellation of November games
“Nothing they've done over the past several weeks is very much of a surprise. One thing sort of follows another; it looks like more or less what's been done in the other disputes in the other sports. It's a shame, I think. And hopefully we'll finally get down to serious negotiations one of these days. But we're not there yet.”
What will it take to get to serious negotiations?
“Somebody has to be willing to talk about things seriously. So far, the league's position is essentially, we got billions of dollars from the players last time, and we've had nothing but record revenues ever since, so let's try go and get another billion or two. And that's hard. It's really hard to do. I'll just ask all of you: What is the articulated reason the concessions are being asked for. Except, well, this is what happened in basketball. OK, so? Or the other one is, we want an opportunity for everybody to make a fair profit. What's a fair profit? Who's not making it and if that's the issue, why is the proposal to lower salaries on Toronto at the same time you do it on Phoenix?”
TORONTO (October 26, 2012) – Don Fehr, National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director, released the following statement regarding the NHL’s decision to withdraw its October 16, 2012 proposal and cancel further regular season games:
“The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn their latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise.
Last week the owners gave us what amounts to a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal. We responded with the framework for three proposals on the players’ share, each of which moved significantly, towards their stated desire for a 50-50 split of HRR, with the only condition being that they honour contracts they have already signed. Honouring contracts signed between owners and players is a reasonable request. Unfortunately, after considering them for only 10 minutes they rejected all of our proposals.
Since then, we have repeatedly advised the owners that the players are prepared to sit down and negotiate on any day, with no pre-conditions. The owners refused. They apparently are only interested in meeting if we first agree to everything in their last offer, except for perhaps a few minor tweaks and discussion of their “make whole” provision.
The message from the owners seems to be: if you don't give us exactly what we want, there is no point in talking. They have shown they are very good at delivering deadlines and demands, but we need a willing partner to negotiate. We hope they return to the table in order to get the players back on the ice soon.”
from Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times,
Last week was a dismal one for Donald Fehr and the N.H.L. Players’ Association, and not just because the owners flatly rejected the union’s offer to settle the N.H.L. lockout. For the first time since negotiations began last summer, public opinion seemed to have shifted: many fans, who had been blaming Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners for the impasse, started to blame Fehr and the players.
Yet none of that is likely to sway Fehr, perhaps North America’s most effective union leader over the past three decades. He has drawn fans’ wrath before, but his accomplishments are enormous. As head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1983 to 2009, Fehr thwarted efforts to impose a salary cap and kept players’ salaries high. In three years with the N.H.L. Players’ Association, he repaired a hopelessly fractured union and readied it for confrontation with the owners.
Players understand that this is something in which they all have to hang together,” Fehr said. “You can paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: if we don’t hang together, we’re going to hang separately.”
Fehr is something of an anachronism: an ardent trade unionist in an era when the power of unions outside of sports is shrinking.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Twenty-four hours after the latest breakdown in talks between the NHL and the players union, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr explained to QMI Agency why it might be a long lockout....
Here is an edited transcript of Fehr's discussion:
QMI: Did Gary Bettman tell you the last offer Tuesday was take-it-or-leave-it?
FEHR: "All I can tell you is that my sense in the meeting (Thursday): They reviewed our proposals. It took them 12 or 15 minutes, said they rejected them, said their offer on Tuesday was their very best offer and that outside of what he called 'minor tweaks' that was it. He said this in front of 19 players. When I said, 'So, a tweak means something small and insubstantial' or words to that effect, he said 'Yes.' That's sort of the way it ends. Except Gary said at the end of the meeting if the players were prepared to accept their offer in its entirety, minor tweaks, I could call him about the 'make whole' provision which has players paying players for the reduced salaries in the first two years. I just have to go on the basis of what I heard."
QMI: Were you upset the league took your proposals, looked at them for 12-to-15 minutes and dismissed them?
FEHR: "I don't get upset. I don't get excited. It's just another indication that this is going to be fairly long road."
When this is done, NHL players will have the best deal possible, and a more educated, involved players association with professional self-governance. That’s all Donald Fehr cares about. It’s all he should care about.
-Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail where you can read more on Donald Fehr.
added 6:55pm, YouTube version of Fehr meeting the media is below in case your IP is restricted for viewing by CBC.
NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Donald Fehr met with the Star editorial board on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing collective bargaining between players and owners to end the NHL lockout. Here’s a partial transcript of the discussion.
Q: If I were a ten-year-old boy or girl who was a hockey fanatic and you wanted to tell me why this was important and why you have to hold tough, what would you say?
Fehr: I would say to a very young fan essentially this: What your mom and dad want you to be when you grow up is not only the very best you can be but hopefully the very best in your profession in the world. And in order to do that you have to work hard and practice hard, you have to make sure you do everything you need to do to achieve and maintain that requisite level of skill – and then you ought to be rewarded for it. And the players would be perfectly happy to eliminate the so-called salary cap and just let everyone offer a job or not on whatever terms they want. The players think they would do fine. But the owners don’t want to do that, so the question is how do we come up with a way that equitably assigns the relative portions of industry income? And that’s an important thing.
Q: This one is from one of our readers. Why does the NHLPA think that players collectively are entitled to more than the owners collectively?
Fehr: First of all, it’s not true. We estimate that when you look at all revenue, and you look at the current agreement, players are getting between 50 and 51 per cent. Second, there are a whole lot of things the owners don’t share in, like franchise sales and that kind of stuff – or a lot of the related business that the owners get into because they own a hockey team. Third, this is not a question of an entitlement in the sense that there’s some law, some act of Congress or religious edict that says this is what you should get. It’s a question of what you can negotiate, and just as importantly, what is the value to the league that the players bring. That’s the question....
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Donald Fehr expressed some hope that collective bargaining talks this week will help lead to some resolution.
But he also made it clear in an hour-long meeting with the Toronto Star’s Editorial Board that the longer the NHL lockout lasts, the less happy the players will be playing under a salary cap.
“If this goes on for an extended period of time, I don’t know what they (the players) are going to do. But I think it’s safe to say, they would be exploring all options,” said Fehr.
He added the players can live with salary cap if an agreement can be reached quickly.
“Where the players are, they want to make a deal,” Fehr said. “Even though the owners’ proposal went as far away from the players as they could, the players did not respond in kind. They made a proposal which moved in the owners’ direction. If there can be an agreement in a relatively short term, which puts the pieces back together and gets the season going, I think the players can live with that.”
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
Q: Does the court of public opinion matter for you and the NHLPA?
Fehr: Obviously the public matters. Those are the fans, the people who ultimately buy the tickets and watch the game on TV and you want to try and explain everything you can. You want to see if the fans can understand your position, that the public perception of the particular dispute is as close to what we think the facts and the circumstances are. If you’re asking me about public opinion in the sense of taking a poll of people who are not familiar with the comprehensive nature of negotiations and all the rest of it, and then negotiating on the basis of what the results of that poll happen to be? The answer is no, any more than you would if I was representing a reader in a lawsuit and I said: ‘I have no idea what your legal position is, let’s take a poll and see what they say.’
Q: How important is it that when this is all said and done, the reputation of individual players hasn’t been damaged?
A: It’s essential that the players be involved and be involved intimately and knowledgeably, that they participate collectively and make the decisions that need to be made. When you get into negotiations which involve dispute, there are going to be times when the conversation is more heated than you might like it and tempers might flare. I would be very surprised if anybody on the other side took off after individual players or tried to make them look bad and if they did I think the only effect that would have would be to enhance that player’s stature in the eyes of other players enormously.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Q: Does the court of public opinion matter?
Bettman: Ultimately it does.
What our fans want, what our fans believe, what our fans are interested in is why we are what we are. But, nevertheless, ultimately we have to do the things that we believe are essential for the long-term health of the game, of the league and of all of our franchises.
TORONTO (October 4, 2012) – Don Fehr, National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director, released the following statement regarding today’s decision by the NHL to cancel games through October 24, 2012:
“The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners. If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue. A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort. For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock-out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
With the NHL lockout in its third week, THN spoke to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr for a wide-ranging interview on the negotiating process and the road ahead. Here is a transcript of that interview.
The Hockey News: I realize all your negotiations with Major League Baseball in previous years have been different animals, but what stands out for you about this current negotiation, both positively and negatively?
Don Fehr: The positive is really easy – it’s the players. They are involved, they are committed, they participate, they understand, and in the end, they’re making the decisions. That’s why we have conference calls with the full negotiating committee and the full board. That’s why we have meetings in which we invite about 50 people – the negotiating committee and the executive board – and more than 285 players show up. So that has been the single-best thing about this for me, because this is their organization, their contracts and their futures. That’s why you’re in it, because you want to help them.
The negative I guess, can basically be that this negotiation is seemingly just following the pattern of all the (salary) capped sports. The entire position seems to be that this is concessionary bargaining, and as a matter of natural law or the way the universe is ordered somehow, the players should be willing to take severe reductions in their compensation and not have a free market for their salaries and not be able to go look for a job as you, or I or anyone else in the Western World can, and it has to be that way. And the only point in the negotiation is how far/how fast are players going to make concessions.
"He's a great communicator. He's up-front, he puts it out there -- what he thinks is best for the union -- and he's just a great leader."
"You're willing to trust his opinion and his leadership and his instincts. He's just a perfect union boss, I think."
-Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins, via John Shipley of the Pioneer Press.
from the CP at the Globe and Mail,
The head of the National Hockey League Players’ Association says a lockout can be avoided.
But Donald Fehr says that’s up to the league.
“The players want to find a way to make an agreement. They want to negotiate until we do,” Fehr told a news conference Thursday.
Commissioner Gary Bettman was slated to hold a news conference later in the day.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Donald Fehr is about to earn his keep.
And the hockey world is about to find out how all the hype, the legend that has grown up around the longtime baseball union leader translates to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s world.
From the outside, that would appear to come down to the simple question of whether Fehr can keep his constituents on point once the second lockout in eight years begins at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
But that’s only part of it.
With the two sides edging fractionally toward a deal with a pair of counterproposals Wednesday, the days leading up to what would be the start of the 2012-13 season in early October will test Fehr’s skills, not just as a hard negotiator but as one who is savvy enough to understand the landscape and see two, three, eight months down the road.
This time Fehr has roughly 300 of his closest NHL players with him, as the settle in New York for two days of NHLPA meetings.
I have to believe most of you have come to the conclusion we are about to see a lockout when we wake up on Sunday morning.
I am not going to post numerous tweets from Fehr's press conference, but this one basically sums up the wide gap between the two parties.
First Gary Bettman (14 minutes) followed by Donald Fehr ( 7 minutes) below.
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
The NHL commissioner is entering his 20th season on the job and has suffered all measure of indignities, be it requiring a police escort in Winnipeg when he sounded the death knell for the first go-round of the Jets to having Chris Chelios threaten his family in the lead-up to the 1994-95 lockout to simply being unpopular, as the greeting he receives at most NHL arenas when he pokes his head up would attest.
But Bettman plows ahead. You get the sense he’s oblivious, figuring those doing the baiting have, over time, shown themselves to be overly emotional or provincial or fools. He’s not any of those things, so he figures he’ll win in the end.
But maybe, just maybe, Don Fehr has Bettman on edge, as he faces a new foe with poker face and no need to please.
"Don’s not afraid to tick someone off," says Buck Martinez, the Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster who was the American League vice-president of the MLBPA for eight years during his playing career and part of the negotiating committee for baseball’s labour stoppages in 1981, 1984 and 1985. "He knows how to push buttons and he knows what to fight for."
from Chris Johnston of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,
None of the top executives involved in the NHL's collective bargaining negotiations will continue to be paid if the league enacts a lockout next week.
Donald Fehr, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, says he stopped drawing a salary on July 1 and a source told The Canadian Press that commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly plan to follow suit if a new agreement can't be reached by Sept. 15.
It's a practice Fehr adhered to during his time at baseball's union and one his predecessor at the NHLPA, Bob Goodenow, also followed when the 2004-05 season was wiped out by a lockout.
"It's both a measure of solidarity and uniformity of interest," Fehr said in an interview Thursday. "You want the players to understand you're in the same boat they are — you don't have interests different than they do. We think it's important."
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"I think it's been different in a lot of respects," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com in an interview Wednesday. "At least with respect to a lot of the issues that need to be discussed and worked out, we ploughed a lot of ground in that area and made some progress. I think we have some tentative agreement to some things, we have teed up issues in other areas -- so from that perspective we had a good summer of negotiation. Each side was also able to express where they are on the economics of the deal, some of the system issues, those still need to be resolved. There hasn't been a lot of movement on those issues. And they are the critical issues to setting off all the dominos. We're focused on those issues exclusively right now."
While they remain far apart on the key economic issues -- the percentage the players will get in the new CBA -- at least both sides used the summer sessions to get ahead in other areas.
"My approach is really very simple: you get up every day, you try to find a way to work through the issues, you organize the group of things you want to talk about so that they have some nexus with one another to the extent that's possible," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr told ESPN.com in a separate interview Wednesday. "If you can have things discussed in smaller groups without everybody being involved in every meeting, sometimes that can be helpful. And you follow through 'em, you have your discussions and sometimes they go well, sometimes not, sometimes they get heated, but so what, you got to do that. You get it done. To the extent that you can get through that kind of stuff, that's helpful."
First up is Donald Fehr (23 minutes) followed by Gary Bettman (17 minutes) below...
First Fehr with a 14 minute meeting with the media followed by Bettman below at 16 minutes.
First a short video with both Bettman and Fehr talking, then a follow-up story from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com.
added 6:51pm, Michael Grange of Sportsnet has much more detail from today’s meeting, well worth the click.
TORONTO/NEW YORK (July 6, 2012) - National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Don Fehr issued the following statement regarding the July 5-6 collective bargaining sessions in New York:
“Eight Players, along with NHLPA staff, met with three owners and League officials at the NHL’s office in New York over the last two days. A number of items were discussed and, along with the League, we will be looking at these CBA matters in greater detail at upcoming bargaining sessions. We look forward to re-convening for further talks on Tuesday at our office in Toronto.”
from Andrew Podnieks of IIHF.com, BARCELONA –
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr spoke to the Hockey Forum crowd this afternoon and sounded nothing but enthusiastic about the possibility to grow the game in Europe and around the world – and he indicated NHL players have every desire to be a part of such a plan.
“The first reason I took this job,” Fehr began, “was that, because of some restructuring in the NHLPA, players asked me to help them with various projects. I did that for a year.
“I really liked the players but there was another reason. There is an enormous opportunity in this sport internationally that doesn’t exist in other sports. The NFL is primarily watched in the U.S. Basketball has made tremendous inroads abroad but is still primarily U.S. Major League Baseball is American except for some presence in Japan.
“Hockey is different. It has an audience in North America and across Europe. There is an opportunity to create cross-Atlantic events of various sorts that could create audiences on both sides. I don’t know of another sport that can do that. That’s pretty exciting to me.
“All things being equal, the players tell me that they want to play the best in the world,” Fehr said, starting to bring the NHL players into the discussion.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
They were separated by roughly 40 feet Wednesday for most of Gary Bettman’s state of the union address, the NHL commissioner at the podium, addressing a room full of reporters, NHL players association director Donald Fehr at the back of the room, listening carefully.
It remains to be seen if the divide between the two men grows greater in the weeks and months ahead.
Bettman confirmed that at long last, the NHL and the players association have exchanged dates to begin the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. Fehr said not to read too much into that development, however, because it was simply “due course” stuff.
Officially, the CBA expires on Sept. 15 and both Bettman and Fehr circled carefully around the issue of how the process might unfold.
Some believe that the two sides are inevitably on a collision course, seven years after they lost a full season (2004-05) to a lockout.
But Bettman brushed aside that suggestion, on the grounds that the two sides have not had “a substantive discussion” on what they may be looking for in collective bargaining, so to suggest that they are at loggerheads already would be premature.
added 8:48pm, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN with his story on the CBA talks…