Donald Fehr New Executive Director of NHLPA
Reports had placed Donald Fehr as the new Executive Director of the NHL Players Association, but now the organization is hesitating to make the announcement official just yet.
The NHLPA has stated that no official offer has been made to Fehr, an offer which he would have to accept before the process is finished. All signs point to Fehr, though, who has been working as an unpaid advisor on behalf of the players union since November 2009. The NHLPA has been without a director since the firing of Paul Kelly last fall.
There are some who fear the hiring of Fehr could cause a strain between the players union and league officials and ownership. Fehr, 62, was the director of the Major League Baseball Players Association for 26 years, during which time he oversaw the player’s strike that prematurely ended the 1994 season. Fehr is a veteran boss and notoriously tough to bargain with.
The NHL is still recovering from the 2005 lockout and with a new round of CBA negotiations on the horizon in 2012, some fear that Fehr’s presence betters the chances of another lockout, something that no one tied to hockey can afford. There is no concrete reason to suggest Fehr will induce another lockout, but his reputation precedes him.
A vote by the players reps is expected to happen this week and there is expected to be overwhelming support for Fehr.
However, league contacts indicate Fehr likely won’t hold the position as executive director for very long. The plan is to groom a No. 2 man behind Fehr who will eventually take over for the long haul.
Luongo to Relinquish Captaincy?
Roberto Luongo may be giving up his captain’s C this season. Or he’ll have it painted over, anyway. There has been some suggestion in Vancouver that the franchise goaltender should relinquish the captaincy to a Henrik Sedin or Ryan Kesler, allowing Luongo to focus solely on the goaltending position.
If the NHL captaincy was a hallowed hockey tradition, it became another victim of the post-lockout era. Luongo became the first goaltender to captain a team since 1948 when Markus Naslund left Vancouver in 2008. Youngsters Sidney Crosby and Jonathon Toews were named the captains of their respective teams only a few years ago.
Traditionally, only players with relative tenure were awarded the captaincy (although Crosby and Toews have become the youngest players to captain their teams to cup titles in each of the last two years, respectively.) Team captains are expected to address the media before and after games, something Luongo announced he would not do after Vancouver fell behind Chicago 3 games to 1 in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals.
The general thought is that the duties should be handed to one of the team’s forwards, allowing Luongo to focus solely on his position (and perhaps overcome Chicago) for the upcoming season.
Khabibulin facing charges of DUI
Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is facing up to six months in prison stemming from a February 2010 incident of drunk driving and speeding. Khabibulin is facing three counts of DUI after being pulled over in Arizona this February. Khabibulin’s BAC at the time of his arrest was .164, over twice the legal limit. Khabibulin was sitting out the remainder of last season after January back surgery in the first season of his four-year, 15 million dollar deal with Edmonton. If Khabibulin is sentenced to the maximum six-month term, Edmonton will rely on youngster Jean Deslauriers in net but don’t rule out the Oilers giving Antti Neim’s agent Bill Zito a call in the near future.
*Lee Stempniak is off the free agent market, agreeing to a two year deal worth $3.5 million with the Phoenix Coyotes. Stempniak scored 28 goals last season and was hopeful to return to Phoenix.
In 18 regular season games with Phoenix, Stempniak had 14 goals and four assists. He added two assists in seven playoff games.
Stempniak will take a significant reduction in pay after making $3.5 million in 2009-2010. He will have a cap hit of $1.75 million.
*The Edmonton Oilers and 20-year old forward Sam Gagner have agreed to a two-year, $4.55 million contract. In 68 games played last season, Gagner scored 15 goals and posted 26 assists.
*The Dallas Stars have signed defenseman Nicklas Grossman to a two-year extension worth 3.25 million. The 25 year-old defensive defenseman had 7 assists in 71 games with Dallas in 2009-10. His cap hit with the stars comes in at 1.625 million per season.
*Forward Clark MacArthur signed a one-year deal with Toronto worth 1.1 million. MacArthur, traded to Atlanta from Buffalo last season, was awarded 2.4 million dollars in arbitration early this offseason, a price Atlanta wasn’t going to pay. The 25 year-old UFA had 16 goals and 19 assists for Buffalo and Atlanta last season.
*Toronto also acquired minor-league defenseman Matt Lashoff from Tampa Bay for minor league forwards Alex Barry and Stefano Giliati. Lashoff has 1 goal and 15 assists in 63 career NHL games. Barry and Giliati split time between AHL and ECHL squads last year.