I don't believe Donald Fehr, the executive director for the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), is that bad. I don't believe Bob Goodenow or Ted Saskin, former NHLPA executive directors, were either. The fact is, these guys work in a field that demands turnover. That's because the players will never win. They're trying to break a rock. They're up against the Walls of Troy, and they don't have an Achilles on their side.
Donald Fehr has the unenviable position of heading up a union of guys who have no business calling themselves a union anymore. In fact, they're not called a union. They're a Players Association. They have too much money. Too much fame. Too much to lose. Dock workers have unions. Coal miners, maybe. Auto assemblers. Not NHLers. The best make over $10 million a year, including endorsements. The lowest tier make pigeon.
"The NHLPA has agreed to a meeting on Tuesday in New York that should facilitate dialogue between players and owners," Fehr said in a statement posted by NHL.com. "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."
The positive of this is that the league's Billionaire Boys Club is finally letting its fringe owners into its closed door meetings. Winnipeg's Mark Chipman, Tampa's Jeff Vinik, Toronto's (majority leader) Larry Tanenbaum, and Calgary's Murray Edwards are all invited.
The other plus is that the owners and players are finally meeting one-on-one. No interference. No Bill Daly.
The negative, though, is that Donald Fehr is now irrelevant. The entire union is irrelevant, if this works. The players and owners are finally bringing it on home, and the PC'ness that we've been thrown and tossed is out the window.
Fehr, of course, doesn't have a Daly. He doesn't have a right-hand man who can stand in front of the media and toss barbs to the other side. He has to be on all the time, and he has no backup plan.
Donald Fehr can't win this. Only, he seems smart enough to know it, otherwise why would he be sending the players memos warning them against NHL dogma? His cautionary words sound like a grandmother warning you about emails viruses.
The players don't seem to know this. They think they can actually pull it off. They think the owners have more to lose than them, which just isn't true. the players are a wet noodle going up against a chainsaw.
And they'll fire Fehr when this is all over, because that's how the players have always handled losses No Stanley Cup? Fire the coach. Haven't scored in a while? Get me off this line. Didn't win the Lockout? Fire Bob Goodenow. And, Ted Saskin. And, Donald Fehr.
The players are blunt objects who are paid to be blunt objects. The owners are businessmen. This is what they do. Hopefully, after Tuesday, the Sidney Crosby and Co. will see that.
The entire union is done. That's the bad news. Or, wait... that's good news, isn't it?
*This article was originally posted on White Cover Magazine.
NHL star Martin St. Louis, left, of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, looks over the field next to Lausanne's player Eric Landry, during St. Louis' first training with Lausanne Hockey Club, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, Nov.18, 2004. St. Louis signed with Lausanne Hockey Club of the Swiss A league for the rest of the 2004-05 season.
The empty locker room of the Detroit Red Wings is shown at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004.
Colorado Avalanche's Peter Forsberg, left, fights it out with Detroit Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg in front of goalie Miika Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames during a Swedish national league match between Modo and Timra in Ornskoldsvik, northern Sweden, Monday Sept. 27, 2004.
Los Angeles Kings captain Wayne Gretzky, right, shares a light moment with teammate Marty McSorley during practice in Los Angeles on Jan. 13, 1995. This was one of their first practices since settling the strike with National Hockey League owners.
Bob Goodenow, NHL Players' Association president, talks to reporters after meeting with agents representing locked out NHL players Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004 in Rosemont, Ill.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman briefly talks with reporters before joining a dinner with NHL team owners and general managers Thursday, Dec. 2, 2004 in New York.
Los Angeles Kings team captain Wayne Gretzky answers questions from the media after a team meeting in Los Angeles, on Friday, Sept. 30, 1994. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)
Buffalo Sabres goalie Martin Biron stops a shot during a pickup hockey game with other NHL players, in Amherst, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2005. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
Forward Jaromir Jagr plays for the Czech first ice hockey league team of Rabat Kladno during the NHL lockout, celebrates victory of his team over Liberec in Czech National Hockey League match played in Kladno on Friday, Nov. 5, 2004.
New York Rangers' Mike Richter, left, and Nick Kypreos read a newspaper article about the postponement of the opening day of the NHL Hockey season in Rye, N.Y., Oct. 2, 1994, during a meeting with players to discuss the situation. The union took out an ad in 29 newspapers - at least one in all 26 NHL cities - with an open letter to hockey fans signed by "the 700 members of the NHL Players' Association."
New York Rangers team captain Mark Messier talks to reporters after practice in Ryebrook, N.Y., Jan. 13, 1995 before NHL players ratified a new contract and headed for training camp to prepare for an abbreviated season.
Doug Sitler of Buffalo, N.Y., creator of the hockey ribbon poses for his portrait with a handful of his product outside his offfice in Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announces the end of the NHL season during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005 in New York.
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis talks about the cancellation of the 2004-05 season by the National Hockey League during a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005, in Washington. The NHL canceled what little was left of the season after a series of last-minute offers were rejected on the final day of negotiations.
Pittsburgh Penguins player/owner Mario Lemieux leaves after commenting Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005 in Pittsburgh, on the loss of the NHL season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announces the end of the NHL season during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005 in New York.
New York Rangers Brian Leetch pauses during practice in Rye, N.Y., Jan. 12, 1995. The Rangers will get a chance to defend their Stanley Cup title when the NHL season opens next week.
Carolina Hurricanes' head coach Peter Laviolette speaks to reporters following a viewing of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's announcement cancelling the current season Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
An empty HP Pavilion where the San Jose Sharks play, is shown in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, July 13, 2005. After losing an entire season to a lockout, NHL players and owners ended an all-night bargaining session Wednesday by reaching their goal: a tentative deal, expected to include a salary cap, that virtually ensures hockey will return this fall.
The home ice of the Detroit Red Wings is shown empty at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2004. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Buffalo Sabres' Daniel Briere talks about the NHL lockout before playing a game of hockey with other NHL players at the Pepsi Center in Amherst, N.Y., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004.
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