Donald Fehr’s failures with the NHLPA

Fehr and loathing.

Fehr and loathing.
Screenshot: Illustration

You knew it was bother as quickly because the NHLPA introduced it will put out the outcomes of their investigation into the union’s dealing with of Kyle Beach on a Friday. It’s stunning that organizations haven’t discovered that everybody sees by way of a Friday newsdump. That suspicion solely grew exponentially as issues have been delayed by some form of “outage,” Oh, they needed to launch the information nearer to five p.m.? You don’t say?

As my colleague Grace McDermott so ably coated, the NHLPA was capable of exonerate itself, miraculously, pointing to coincidences and miscommunications that may have made the writers of the second season of Arrested Development roll their eyes. Never thoughts that if a system is in place that causes issues like this to fall by way of the cracks just because nobody is aware of who to speak to about what, that’s negligence.

But it results in the query of what it’s the NHLPA and Donald Fehr truly do.

The Beach affair is the loudest now and probably the most disturbing. If a union can’t shield or assist a participant, and forestall future ones, from being so wronged, then it has failed its primary objective. Where else was Beach to go? What will the following participant really feel when he sees this report? Does anybody actually imagine they will get the assistance they want from the union, whose sole objective is to assist its members?

Fehr was introduced into the NHLPA in 2012 when the CBA negotiations have been heating up earlier than the 2012-2013 season. The gamers needed an assault canine, feeling that they had gotten utterly rolled over in 2005, leaving them not solely with a wage cap they stated they’d by no means settle for however having misplaced out on a complete season.

The gamers ended the 2005 negotiations with a cap tied to 54 p.c of league revenues, and the homeowners seven years later got here for a good cut up. The gamers introduced in Fehr to be a a lot better strategist and fighter than Bob Goodenow was within the earlier negotiations. And the gamers acquired…a 50-50 cut up for the wage cap. It was clear what the homeowners have been after from their first proposal within the fall of 2012, which referred to as for gamers to solely get 46 p.c of hockey associated income. But that simply occurred to be 4 share factors beneath 50, when the gamers on the time have been getting 4 factors above. The settlement that saved the 2013 season pegged it proper within the center. The PA had a employed gun who … gave the homeowners the whole lot they have been after.

About the one concession of any that means that the PA received was that groups have been in a position so as to add an eighth 12 months to affords to their very own free brokers, however different groups couldn’t. Fehr didn’t get any form of NBA-style exceptions to get mid-level gamers extra money, those who get actually squeezed by the cap. Bird exceptions? Pffft, by no means even mentioned. He even let on this ridiculous cap-recapture clause, which punished groups for contracts that have been signed underneath a special system. It hamstrung each GMs and gamers from getting out from underneath conditions that have been not workable, and gave us hilarious eventualities like Marian Hossa the Coyote. There have been different adjustments in income sharing and different issues beneath the floor, however nothing monumental.

The newest CBA was signed underneath the duress of the pandemic, however as soon as once more what did Fehr and the union achieve for his or her gamers? The cut up continues to be the identical. There are not any exceptions for veteran gamers. Players get to free company after they already did. And the cap is frozen for years, one thing the homeowners demanded with out a lot of a pushback from the gamers. And each CBAs signed underneath Fehr’s management have escrow, one thing the gamers have bitched about 4 minutes after ratifying every deal. All they acquired in return was a assure to go to the Olympics… which they didn’t go to anyway. And that impacts what share of the membership?

Beyond CBA negotiations, the union has struggled to guard gamers on the ice. The Tom Wilsons of the world can fly round attempting to fill his duffel bag with indifferent heads, and but there’s no push from the PA for main guidelines adjustments to guard the bulk. Watch the utter mayhem the playoffs can descend into and surprise who’s looking for who. The Department of Player Safety continues to be headed by a former goon. Headshots nonetheless run rampant, and suspensions and fines stay laughable. It appears the NHLPA can’t, or received’t, protects its gamers in any area.

So Donald Fehr didn’t actually “win” any negotiations. He failed Kyle Beach, when he completely couldn’t. Players nonetheless don’t have the safety they want on the ice, nor off it. What is it, you’ll say Donald, you do right here?

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