NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr took part in an intriguing interview with the Associated Press's Josh Warrow, but in discussing the 2016 World Cup from the NHLPA and then the NHL's perspectives, a certain sports commissioner reminded us that the relationship between the players and league remains...complicated:
“What we have to be able to do is basically demonstrate, explain, show to sports fans and non-sports fans what this game is all about, and what the people who play it are all about,” Fehr said. “And if that doesn’t produce significant movement and attractiveness to the game, we’re in big trouble. But I think it will.”
Bettman shares that vision and credits Fehr’s arrival with providing the game — and union — much-needed stability after the NHLPA went through a lengthy stretch of upheaval and infighting after a lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. Following Bob Goodenow’s resignation in July 2005, the union went through three executive directors before Fehr took over in 2010.
“It’s not a coincidence that the last decade-plus we haven’t had a World Cup because we haven’t had anybody to deal with on a long-term stable basis at the union to make decisions that had to be made to do an international tournament,” Bettman told the AP. “The fact that we’re now in a situation where there’s a strong union, which I believe is important and a good thing, we can pursue mutual goals and objectives to build the game.”
The owners, Bettman noted, deserve credit, too, for insisting on a salary-cap based system that has provided cost certainty and competitive balance.
“While we paid a huge, huge price for that, a long-term CBA is only a good thing if you have a system that’s working. And the system is working,” Bettman said. “Working co-operatively with the players’ association enables us to do more things to build on that foundation.”
Yeah, two lockouts, a season-and-a-half gone and the early retirements of the Messiers, Yzermans and Lidstroms...Anyway, the dual interview continues...