NHL Lockout: Does Donald Fehr Possess the Glue to Hold the NHLPA Together?

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NHL Lockout: Does Donald Fehr Possess the Glue to Hold the NHLPA Together?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The clock continues to tick on the NHL season, and as more games slip away, the pressure becomes greater for NHLPA head Donald Fehr to get a deal done.

For months the NHL players have focused their hatred on Gary Bettman and the NHL ownership group, while the owners have focused their attention on Fehr. Last week some of those signals seemed to have crossed, as 20-year NHL veteran and current Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik turned his attention to Fehr.

Speaking to ISport.cz (translated on twitter via Roman Jedlicka), Hamrlik offered the following:

I am disgusted. We have to push Fehr to the wall to get the deal. Time is against us. We lost (one-quarter of the) season, (about) $425M. Who will give it back to us? Mr. Fehr? There should be voting between players. Four questions – YES or NO – then count it. If half of players say lets play, then they should sign new CBA. If there is no season he should leave and we will find someone new. Time is our enemy.

Hamrlik has found some support for his comments, but for the most part, the NHLPA membership attempted to distance themselves from the words of the veteran player going through the third lockout of his long NHL career.

Will the NHLPA solidarity crumble in the coming days?

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Players can agree or disagree with what Hamrlik had to say, but to think that time is not running out is foolish. The minimum number of games the players for a season will most likely be 41, meaning the drop dead date is coming. 

Hamrlik is no spring chicken, he’s 38 years old and in the final year of his two-year deal with the Capitals and, odds are, the final year of his NHL career, so he’s desperate to get back on the ice and make at least some of that $3.5 million. You can bet that there are other players thinking the exact same thing. Odds are, as a drop dead date for the cancellation of the NHL season nears, more players will join Hamrlik in voicing their opinion that a deal must get done.

Some will voice that opinion in the media, some will voice that opinion behind closed doors, but there will be players feeling the heat. You can be sure that the NHL owners are fully aware of Hamrlik’s comments and that those words brought some smiles.

When all the players truly have on their side is unity and solidarity, all it takes is one small crack for the walls to crumble down.

I’m not saying the walls are going to crumble soon, but the first crack has appeared. The question now is, does Fehr have the glue to patch that crack and any subsequent cracks that will appear in the seemingly weakening wall of the NHLPA’s resolve?

It will be very interesting to watch how this develops over the coming days, and if more weakness is displayed on the NHLPA side of the table, expect the NHL ownership group to dig in their heels and refuse any concessions. 

All the while the clock continues to tick away.

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