NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr recently caught up with Sportsnet’s Luke Fox at the union’s annual charity golf tournament in Oakville, Ontario to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the players’ union this offseason. One issue that came up: the Connor McDavid extension.
Despite earning a whopping $100 million on his new contract, there are many NHL fans and analysts who believe McDavid left money on the table and could have earned even more had he decided to go tough on the Oilers during negotiations. Given that the top players are often used as a comparison in contract negotiations for others, there’s a sentiment around the league that McDavid should have “taken one for the team” during negotiations to ensure top dollar for his union members.
So, what’s Fehr’s stance on the matter? "What we want is for players to understand in an individual situation what the atmosphere is, what their bargaining rights are now, what their bargaining rights might be a year or two or five in the future; where they want to live; what team and for what coach they want to play; and then to make the best judgment they can,” explained Fehr. “Some players might say, ‘Look, all I want is a one- or two-year contract. I want to renegotiate after that.’ Others are going to want the security.”
So, to break that down: essentially Fehr is fine with the extension. His focus is on making sure that players take EVERYTHING into consideration when negotiating a deal. Dollars and cents are only one part of the equation. They’re a big part of the equation and sometimes even the biggest part of the equation, but in the end it’s up to the player to decide what’s most important to them.
This, frankly, is a refreshing take from the NHLPA. After years of in-fighting and proselytizing, it’s refreshing to see them officially take such a nuanced stance on contract negotiations.