Donald Fehr said in an address to Canadian Auto Workers that when all else fails with union dealings, “trust your members.” There’s little doubt that’s what he’s doing with the NHL Players’ Association as the lockout drags on.
Amid reports that Fehr advised players to hold out this week and criticism from ex-NHLer Jeremy Roenick, the executive director continues to get the backing of his consituency.
“Under Don’s leadership we are confident that a deal will be finalized with the League assuming we have a willing partner,” Vancouver Canucks star Ryan Kesler wrote on Twitter. “Don’s leadership of the PA has never been stronger.”
Fehr has been widely praised by players during collective bargaining talks. As he has said countless times, he works for the players, and that shapes his philosophy.
“What you do is trust your membership because they’ll tell you the right thing to do,” Fehr told the Canadian Auto Workers Union on Saturday.
In his speech, Fehr outlined his background and why he took the job running the NHLPA. He mentioned his mentor, Marvin Miller, who died recently, and talked about his history of success and failure in negotiations and law.
Fehr was in a state of retirement when the hockey players wanted him to run their organization.
“What they said they were looking for … is they wanted to rebuild their organization, they wanted to create an entity that the players would be proud of, they would support and far and away most importantly they would participate in,” Fehr said.
As the lockout is now past 80 days and talks seem to be at an impasse, frustration could be growing. But that’s not obvious from the outside looking in to the NHLPA.
Still, Fehr ended his address with a bit of a joke.
“If anybody has a brilliant idea how to solve the lockout, don’t keep it to yourself,” he said.