Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 12/7/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
NHL players wouldn't have voted down the proposal put forth by the league this week.
At least I don't believe they would have.
Neither does Don Fehr. Otherwise there would have been a vote. And there should have been one. Maybe there still should be.
I understand Fehr's job is to get the best deal for his players and holding a vote could undermine his bargaining position. But we're at the brink. The season is on the line. If the NHL loses the season, the next offer it makes will very likely put next season in jeopardy as well. I'd say it's time to take the temperature of the players as a whole.
There's lots to lose. If I was a player, I'd want a vote. Not a show of hands but an anonymous vote.
I'm in a union. Sometimes the agendas of leadership and its constituents don't coincide. It happens for many reasons. They can be practical, ideological or sinister. Take your pick.
Both the union and ownership will be happy to spin things their way right now. My job, and yours for that matter, isn't to buy everything or anything they have to say. It's to listen and sift and sort and come to an opinion.
Long ago in this process I took the position that a 50-50 split of hockey related revenues and less player mobility was best for this market and the Winnipeg Jets.
In case you don't recall, this city once lost its NHL franchise and its fans paid a heavy emotional debt for 15 years. Excuse me if I care less about the rights of millionaire NHL players that move in and out of our community and more about the people that shop at my grocer and buy this newspaper and pay taxes that support our infrastructure.
Call me pro-owner. I'll look you in the face and tell you I'm pro-Winnipeg and be very happy to do so. Don Fehr doesn't care about the health of this franchise. He cares about player rights. That's what he was hired to do. But I don't have to sing from his song book.
Fehr has fought a good fight. Brilliant at some points. But he's on the verge of flying too close to the sun. Some of his players, and my guess is a majority of them, realize this.
There comes a point when the loss of real dollars outweighs the victories of principle Fehr is chasing. He's out-bluffed the owners again and again. But sooner or later he's going to get called.
Right now he's telling the players there's more to be had. It's easy to see Fehr's argument and he's been consistently right. The owners have continually caved.
But when he's wrong the price will be staggering. Some players will be unable to return from the abyss. So, shouldn't they decide if they want to make that blind leap?
Fehr says he works for the players and they make all the decisions. Again, I don't believe that. There is a tight power base that controls the rest of the group. Not every player in the league has a say. Unions simply don't function that way.
The players bristle at the suggestion they are cattle but in every union there has to be some shepherding. Leadership bullies those that don't fall in line.
Right now the players are projecting a united front. It's what they've been schooled to do. I just don't think it's entirely authentic.
Perhaps I'm wrong. Certainly some of the more vocal players Thursday night on Twitter would suggest so. But I believe there is a silent majority that is afraid to use its voice.
A deal was there to be made this week and it had a little something in it for both sides. It should have closed, but Fehr and his lieutenants, for their own reasons, didn't like it. Their voices were loudest.
The union likes to say every player has a voice. I say it's time to hear them all.
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 C1
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Jets trying to regroup for Game 3 in Winnipeg after losses in Anaheim
Five takeaways from Saturday's playoff game
Another killer comeback: Ducks sink Jets with third-period surge
Jets lose a heartbreaker
Ducks expecting a more physical game against the Jets tonight
Jets this week - Game 2 with Tim and Gary
Jets need a few breaks
Playoff baptism thrill for Jets
The hits will just keep on coming
Tempers flare in Game 1 vs. Ducks
Ducks coach expects hits to keep flying against Jets
Jets couldn't silence Ducks' big guns
Penalties shot down the Jets, players and coach admit
Ducks win game of inches
Halischuk defies beard tradition
It will work in Winnipeg: Chipman and Co. set to contend for a long time
Old Spice guy gets towel ready for the Jets
Jets game televised tonight will not be shown outdoors
Ducks not buying into Jets' lack of playoff experience
Perreault's involvement tonight a game-time decision: Maurice
Stanley Cup fever taking new forms
Don't underestimate Winnipeg's Mr. Big
Lawless in the Morning: It's playoff game day
Perreault's status uncertain; Enstrom will play tonight
Veteran Ducks calm, cool
Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec has resurrected his season in a way few thought possible
Jets this week - California edition
Balloon flight, tattoos and a first-born son: Jets fans prove their devotion
Perreault will be a game-time decision in Anaheim
Ducks' Getzlaf doesn't worry about anyone's 'underdog' status
Jets fan fever
Long and winding road begins tomorrow for Jets
Perreault improving, but no return date
The Maurice factor
The 23 musketeers
New faces bring winning culture to Jets
Halischuk takes Perreault's spot in Jets practice
Jets could be surprise darlings of playoffs
Jets play 'underdog' card
Slowing Perry, Getzlaf key to dropping Ducks