Ghost of Montreal Expos Might Haunt CBA Negotiations

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 15:  Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, attends a hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the illegal use of sterioids in baseball January 15, 2008 in Washington, DC. The 'Mitchell Report' named several former and current major league baseball players who are accused of using steriods or other performance-enhancing drugs.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I’m not too into the idea of the NHLPA/NHL collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

The best case scenario is a lot of negotiating, which isn’t always riveting, but the worst case scenario is a work stoppage, which obviously is not a cool outcome.

So I usually opt for denial.

But with Donald Fehr’s official appointment as the new head of the NHLPA, we need to think about the upcoming CBA talks.

Damien Cox has a nice post outlining why Fehr could actually be trouble for the NHLPA. Cox says many people blame Fehr for baseball’s 1994 strike. Cox then goes on to tie that strike to the beginning of the end of the Montreal Expos. So in Cox’s eyes, lots of Canadians are already unsympathetic to whatever Fehr is working on.

Cox also brought up the mysterious circumstances that saw NHLPA head Paul Kelly suddenly fired and eventually replaced by Fehr. Cox calls it a coup.

Cox also makes the argument fans aren’t sympathetic to players, who get to do something wonderful for insane amounts of money. Most fans believe they’d play any game professionally for free, so why shouldn’t players? Of course, that’s a sports issue, not a Fehr issue.

It feels like I used to be able to write about sports without having to get into the comings and goings of union leadership, but things really changed once the owners locked the players out. Suddenly, NHLPA leadership mattered. Suddenly, the CBA wasn’t this abstract, mysterious document, but a real working contract that impacted the game.

So while union-owner relations aren’t my favorite topic, it seems like you have to follow it a little bit if you want to have a sense of if there could be another lockout.

But it sure would be easier if the NHL and NHLPA were listed in the standings so we could see who’s winning.