Calling out Donald Fehr while you’re still an active player takes guts. The façade of a galvanized, ‘we are one’ union is gone.
Of course anybody who previously perceived NHLPA unity when you have members whose careers and salaries are as disparate as they are in the NHL was fooling himself.
When Fehr was head of the Baseball Players Association, he would only get called out by retired ball players who spoke on condition of anonymity—because they had heard about things he had done to the pensions of other players who spoke out. Whether those were just rumor or not, they speak to Fehr’s intimidating ‘leadership’ qualities.
A cloud hangs over the head of Donald Fehr wherever he goes. Or at least it seems that way, because he is forever in the shadow of his mentor, Marvin Miller.
Short of Jackie Robinson, there is no more impactful figure in professional baseball history than Marvin Miller. Under his leadership, the baseball players union went from being a joke to being the most powerful labor union in the United States. The truly profound landmark moments in the history of labor in baseball—end of the reserve clause, free agency, salary arbitration—all have Miller’s stamp on them. His visceral hatred of baseball’s owners led him to patiently educate the players on how badly the owners were screwing them, and what could be done about it.
Miller accomplished the great things in baseball, and now all major North American professional sports reap the benefits.
What transformational accomplishments remain for a guy like Fehr—hockey related revenue? The ‘make whole’ provision? Please.
Fehr is using hockey to escape Miller’s shadow. He is argumentative, unapologetic, egomaniacal, and indifferent to the sport or the traditions of hockey. This is a man who in 1994, after calling for a player’s strike, said that America would be fine without baseball. He was right, America was fine. Baseball wasn’t. Fueled by a steroid culture that Fehr repeatedly claimed did not exist, baseball recovered, only to have a generation of players stained by steroids so badly that it doesn’t matter if a player never tested positive—the whole lot of them remain under a cloud of suspicion.
What steaming pile of horrendousness will he leave behind in hockey?
My only critique of Hamrlik’s comments is as follows. He said,
“If there is no season [Fehr] should leave and we will find someone new.”
He should have said,
“If there is no season we should vote [Fehr] out and find someone new.”
It would be even better if he said,
“We should vote [Fehr] out and find someone new right now.”
The NHLPA Constitution allows the Executive Director to serve in that capacity “for so long as he or she enjoys the trust and confidence of the Executive Board.”
Of the NHLPA’s 30 Executive Board members, 20 are needed to constitute a quorum and 18 are needed to send Donald packing.
Enough with this outsider. What’s Trevor Linden doing these days?
In openly criticizing Fehr, Hamrlik has likely violated the NHLPA Code of Professional Conduct. He risks expulsion from the union for this, but in order for it to ever get that far, a written complaint must be submitted to the General Counsel (Fehr’s brother Steve) by another NHLPA member.
It’ll be interesting to see if one is submitted and if we learn who submitted it.
Either way, thank God a hockey player finally showed some guts. Weird that it took this long.