• Don Fehr, Conflicts and Incentives

    by  • December 2, 2012 • Hockey • 4 Comments


    Everyone by now is familiar with the league’s back-channel assertion Fehr doesn’t accurately relay information from the NHL to the rank-and-file; that he withholds information to suit his own anti-salary cap agenda.

    The latest, though, Slap Shots has learned, is this rumor circulating through the Board that Fehr has a clause in his contract under which he would receive an $8 million payment should the PA vote to accept a CBA against his recommendation.

    “Nonsense … comical,” Fehr said once he stopped laughing when asked about it yesterday. “I’d say that I only wish I were that good a negotiator for myself, except that I don’t even want to joke about it.”

    I don’t know who negotiates the PA contract with the Executive Director, whoever it might be at a given time, but this is one of the loopier terms I could imagine. If Fehr had such a term in his contract, why would he ever recommend an offer from the NHL to the PA?

    “We’ll give you 100% of all revenues and deliver up Jeremy Jacobs and Gary Bettman to you like how Creedy brought Sutler to V in ‘V for Vendetta’.”

    “I can’t recommend that.”

    (Players vote to accept it unanimously, Fehr collects $8MM.)

    It’s difficult to understand why Fehr would ever recommend acceptance of an offer made by the NHL if those were the terms of his contract. What’s more, it strikes me that there would be at least an argument that such a provision in a contract was void as being contrary to public policy. The dispute here is between the NHL and NHLPA. It strikes me as undesirable to permit to the NHLPA to enter into contracts with people that result in their interests not aligning with those of the PA.

    This is particularly true if you assume that Fehr’s contract wasn’t something that was subject to unanimous approval by every member of the union, which is probably true, for reasons of administrative efficiency, if nothing else. Guys who aren’t player representatives are still entitled to have Fehr’s best advice when it comes to whether or not a proposal of the league should be accepted or rejected and a term like that rumoured would put Fehr into a position of extraordinary conflict.

    While I’m on this point…I find it kind of strange that Fehr isn’t drawing a salary either during the lockout. If anything, not drawing a salary gives him an incentive to recommend an offer that he might otherwise reject. I think that the issue is academic, because Fehr’s presumably independently wealthy at this point, his most overriding interest is his legacy as a union representative, which is directly tied to the outcome of the lockout for the players and I assume he has sufficient integrity that he doesn’t let a desire to start getting paid again affect his judgment. That said, I was a player, I’d want the best advice I could possibly get, without any concern about whether or not the fellow recommending it has a personal interest that clouds his judgment. Like I say, I don’t think it’s a concern in this situation, but it strikes me as odd sacrifice to ask or accept from someone giving you advice.

    Email Tyler Dellow at tyler@mc79hockey.com


    4 Responses to Don Fehr, Conflicts and Incentives

    1. Mr DeBakey
      December 2, 2012 at

      Some say Donald Fehr was actually born in Kenya.

      • Chris!`
        December 2, 2012 at

        How can we know for sure unless he releases his REAL birth certificate?

    2. marconiusE
      December 3, 2012 at

      I apologize for being off topic, but does anyone know where BDHS went? I can’t seem to find the site over the last couple days and I’d hate to think the lockout has crushed his interest to the point of shutting down the blog

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