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.