National Hockey League Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr reaffirmed the solidarity of the NHLPA when he spoke to more than 800 delegates attending the CAW Council in Toronto on Saturday.
Fehr discussed the ongoing NHL lockout, which is on its 84th day, and his confidence in the NHLPA and its members. Those feelings were reciprocated by the players.
NHL free agent defenceman Chris Campoli, who has been heavily involved in CBA talks, was in attendance at Fehr’s speech and said: “He’s our guy, he’s our leader and we believe in him. There’s not going to be a deal without him.”
Fehr has received support from players throughout the entire lockout and while he was speaking, players like Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler took to Twitter to show their support.
Under Don’s leadership we are confident that a deal will be finalized with the League assuming we have a willing partner.
On Thursday, talks between the two sides fell apart and both parties say it’s a frustrating situation to be in. Fehr added that the NHL and the NHLPA were close to a deal before the talks broke off.
“All I can tell you is there had been some movement,” Fehr said in a media scrum after his speech. “We responded with some movement, we think we’re done on the dollars or close to it. … It seemed to me that we ought to be able to move forward and finish things off (but) they have not indicated a willingness to move forward.”
Campoli said he feels the players are doing their part in the negotiations, but that it’s difficult when what they offer “gets thrown back in your face.”
“It’s not hard to see who’s been taking the steps in the right direction,” Campoli added. “After being there and going to meetings, we made a step in their direction to make it close. … to have it come to a halt is just disappointing.”
When talking about what happens from this point on in negotiations, Fehr said, ”you keep negotiating and see what happens. … The players have never made threats or threatened to walk out.
“My job is to lead (the players) … their job is to make decisions on an informed basis.”
Fehr explained that with all the backlash both sides have received during the lockout, he is concerned about the fans.
“You always have to be worried about the fans. If you’re not you have to be more perceptive,” Fehr said. “The response we’ve had from fans has been very gratifying and supportive.”
During his speech and the scrum, Fehr would not comment on any specific details concerning CBA proposals.
The CAW Council brings together delegates from across Canada who are elected by their local unions to discuss, debate and vote on key labour, economic and political issues.