In his 32 years as general counsel, then head of the baseball union, I didn’t really interview Don Fehr 1,000 times. But it sure felt like it. My head still hurts.
Now, hockey has the migraine. Two years ago, Fehr became the head of the NHL union that got drubbed eight years ago when a season was canceled but owners won a 24 percent rollback in player salaries. This time, owners want more concessions. Result: a lockout with 327 canceled games. So far.
If hockey wants to avoid losing a second season under Commissioner Gary Bettman’s watch, it should widen its analysis from issues like “core economics” and “player contracting.” The NHL had better figure out Fehr, how he runs a union, what his strategies are and, especially, why baseball got crushed time after time. The subtext of these negotiations is the Fehr factor.