Friday, December 7, 2012

I love what Donald Fehr is doing

To have NHL Commish stomp to the podium like a little boy spurned by a girl is, in the words of Seinfeld's Kramer, "Gold, Jerry...Gold."

Nearly everything in these negotiations has been settled upon, according to CBC's Elliotte Friedman, save for "three cornerstones" which are: 
  • a 10-year deal with a mutual re-opener after eight seasons
  • a five-year term limit on contracts (seven years for your own player) -- player contract length is the "hill we will die on," according to [Deputy Commish, Bill] Daly.
  • no compliance buyouts or caps on player escrow as the NHL and NHLPA transition from the old CBA to the new one.
Daly also pointed out that its all or none, there will be "no cherry-picking."

The piece by Friedman is a real good read, from a well respected journalist. Amongst the intricacies of the process he points out is this segment:

During his media conference, the commissioner was annoyed when one reporter suggested the two sides didn't trust each other.
"I don't understand what that word means," Bettman said, claiming they were just "hard negotiations."
I was surprised at that, because other members of the league's negotiating team throughout this process have sensed otherwise.
"Some of [the players] trust us, but not all of them," one said. That is one reason things went from "it might be the best day so far" (Steve Fehr on Tuesday) to an 18-car pileup 48 hours later.

Ideological differences

That negotiator said there are obvious ideological differences and that "Fehr has given them a philosophy and they've bought into it."
Apparently, part of that is trying to convince the owners they need "lubrication in the system" -- which is sort of a code for being able to circumvent the cap. If you were a player, you'd want that too.
Quietly, the NHL has mounted an anti-Fehr smear campaign. If the players had any doubt about how angry he's made the league, it dissipated Wednesday, when the NHL made it clear "the inclusion of Fehr was a deal-breaker," said Ron Hainsey, referring to the players' wish to bring their lead negotiator back to the table. 

The "anti-Fehr smear campaign" that the NHL has mounted against Donald Fehr is in full swing and it's monstrous. Some blogs from another site:
  • Enough is Enough--"I know that the players want what’s best for the game, the problem is, they are being led by a person that had to “learn the game” and while he may have learned it... he doesn't understand it. This mess… this I lay at the feet of one person. Donald Fehr."
  • Players should fire Fehr--"Some 19 years after a Fehr-led labor dispute essentially ruined baseball (for me and many others), I have become increasingly more and more convinced that Fehr is a rat; he does not operate in good faith. He will scorch the earth and ruin the game itself in the name of destroying the opposition."
  • At least we know who the problem is--"What has occurred here is absolutely disgusting. Donald Fehr might be the worst person ever involved with the NHL. If the season is done, it's his fault. Not the owners, not the teams, not Bettman or Daly...I don't even completely blame the players involved with the PA, whose biggest sin is that they're acting like naive children following their leader blindly. Fehr is the Puppetmaster, and quite obviously, he's sick between the ears."
That's not even getting into the comments section of any online article or blog which were by and large anti-players to begin with.

Sorry disappoint, boys. But, to paraphrase Sabres owner Terry Pegula, "Fehr ain't goin' nowhere."

Y'all think the players hired Fehr to buckle like their previous "leadership?" Fuggedaboudit.

He's been through this movie before, he knows the inner workings of a CBA, he knows who he's dealing with across the table and, like a great chess player, he's thinking two, three, four moves in advance.

And he couldn't have played this one any better. Just look what it did to Bettman:

It was such a heart-breaking gut-punch to Bettman that he finally let some previously gagged owners speak.

This is great stuff and this is why I love that Donald Fehr is on board with the players, the guy is sharp and in control and put the NHL ownership hacks in there place. This is what Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell was saying when he penned, Owners shouldn’t underestimate the Fehr factor.

Just looked at how the Fehr brothers played this one out. (with help from theprovince.)

Negotiations ended, Donald Fehr heads to the podium with optimism. Bill Daly is listening and saying, whoa, wait a minute, that's not what we're thinking.

He calls Steve Fehr who, doesn't answer (LOL), and proceeds to leave a voice mail saying the offer is unacceptable and that everything that was agreed upon is now off the table.

Donald Fehr heads back to the podium (17:00-mark.)

"It looks like this is not going to be resolved in the immediate future," he said. "Previously we didn't think we were nearly as far apart as the owners did, but i think it's clear now after the positions the players took today that there doesn't seem to be much room, certainly not unbridgeable room."

BOOM!!!  Bettman and Daly are left flustered and angry that they did not get their way. (Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, the dynamic duo Q&A)

"Gold, Jerry, Gold"

Y'all can hate on Fehr all you want, but the guy is good, scary good.

I highly doubt that the players are in the dark on all this.

And don't think that there are any amongst the 18 players at the table who are weak like Roman Hamrlik. Pretty sure he hand-picked clutch players to go up against the owners for two days.

He gave them the play...

the NHLPA just tied the score with less than a minute to play.


--A very even-keeled post by an excellent writer, Bill Meltzer, concerning the events of yesterday, complete with wrestling analogies.

--some player reactions, from tsn's Stephen Brunt on Bettman facing off against his twin across the table in his piece 30 minutes of madness.

--It's "owners" (WGR's Jeremy White) vs. "players" (the Buffalo News' Jerry Sullivan) in a heated debate over the NHL lockout. Great stuff.

--Sportsnet's Michael Grange on "bad boyfriend" Gary Bettman.

--Sabres d-man Robyn Regehr on the lockout

--Cam Cole of the Edmonton Sports Journal:  NHL's sorry game takes another downward turn.

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