Donald Fehr, the man who lead Major League Baseball players during the 1994-1995 lockout that resulted in the cancellation of the ’94 World Series, is in the process of being hired to head the National Hockey League Players Association. He’s been acting as an unpaid advisor to the NHLPA since November.
While some thinks this spells trouble for hockey, which is still fighting back from a crippling strike in 1992, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly welcomes the decision.
“Look, I’m not looking forward to Armageddon, that’s for sure,” Daly told the Globe and Mail. “The sport will be well served by dealing with its issues in a reasonable, insightful way, through the negotiation process, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Fehr, who retired as head of the baseball players association in June 2009 after increasing the player’s average salary six-fold during his 20-plus-year tenure, understands how these things work. The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in 2012 but neither side can afford a strike or lockout. That would very likely kill the sport that’s slowly recovering but still losing talent to leagues overseas. The sides need to get together now and start the negotiation process. The NHLPA hasn’t had solid leadership since 2005. Fehr, with his PR canny, fills the void. Hockey (in HD!) will live on.