Donald Fehr helped turn the Major League Baseball Players Association into what is clearly the strongest union in professional sports during his 26-year tenure as its executive director. He is now being asked to straighten out the National Hockey League Players Association after being elected as its executive director in a near-unanimous vote by its membership.
Fehr served as the head of the MLBPA from 1983-2009 before retiring. Hockey players hope he can bring the same kind of stability, if not longevity, to the NHLPA after it has had four leaders since the 2004-05 Lockout.
Fehr, 62, had been serving as an unpaid consultant for the NHLPA. However, the players convinced him to head up their union as they want a fierce negotiator to lead them into the talk when the next collective bargaining agreement expires in September 2012.
"We leaned on him early on to guide us through some tough times," said Ducks enforcer George Parros, the team's player representative to the NHLPA. "We never really assumed that he'd take the position. In fact, he was pretty emphatic that he wouldn't. But he grew to like us and grew to like [the job]. He thinks he can help us out. We had a lot of trouble there for a while, and there's been a great calming effect. So I think we're all pretty happy that he's agreed to take over."