Fehr Outduels Bettman in NHL Sparring

Fehr Outduels Bettman in NHL Sparring

The NHL lockout appears over. Here are some of the winners and losers from the last 113 days.

WINNER: Don Fehr. Nearly six years ago, the NHLPA fired Ted Saskin under a cloud of corruption. Two years later, they fired Paul Kelly as NHLPA head under a cloud of mistrust and with the union fractured. Enter Don Fehr in 2010. The former baseball union leader brought the players together through increased communication, and kept them together through the rough waters of the lockout. Within the negotiation, he managed to maintain as much as could be expected in a work stoppage where the NHL had all the leverage. And boy did he piss off the NHL’s lead negotiators. Mightily. His legacy will be that of a labor warrior and a guy who, despite his enemies’ protests, wasn’t committed to killing the National Hockey League for his own interests.

LOSER: Gary Bettman. We’ll never really know how bad the divisions within ownership were during the lockout. Suffice it to say, it sounds like you had important teams that weren’t in favor of the lockout, and others that supported it turning heel on Bettman as it lingered into 2013. By the end of the process, you had some owners reportedly irate that the NHL gave up too much to the players to get a deal done. Bettman again served his role well as a lightning rod for the players and a sparring partner for the media. But it was clear that he didn’t have the same mandate, and hence the rigidity, that he had back in 2005. He’s now the man who effectively lost two seasons (two halves and a whole) to work stoppages. That’s just embarrassing for the NHL.

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