NHLPA boss Don Fehr: owners likely to lock out players again

Adam Proteau
Donald Fehr (Bruce Bennett)

There are still another seven seasons remaining in the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement and the league’s business is booming to the point of serious and public expansion discussion. But as far as NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr is concerned, once the CBA ends after the 2021-22 campaign, the league’s labor history will repeat in the most unfortunate of ways.

That’s right. Prepare yourself for another lockout.

“If you put baseball to the side where there’s no cap, I don’t see anything yet which suggests any of the other three (North American) leagues are likely to break out of the phenomenon of a lockout every time, because a salary cap produces that phenomenon on the management side,” Fehr told THN Wednesday in an interview for a feature that appears in THN’s upcoming People of Power And Influence special edition. “(Owners) think they’ve got nothing to lose: “Let’s just go see what happens, and maybe we’ll get a little bit more.”

The 66-year-old Fehr – who has made an art out of eloquently keeping his cards close to the vest – discussed a wide array of topics for the feature, including NHLers potentially dealing with gambling and other temptations while playing in Las Vegas (“Lots of people live in Las Vegas and obey the law,”), the recent mumps outbreak and concussion protocols, and the prospect of independent doctors evaluating injured players (as opposed to the team doctors who currently have that job). Read more

Kings double down on roster, sign Alec Martinez to 6-year, $24-million extension – but change will still come

Adam Proteau
Alec Martinez

Under GM Dean Lombardi, the reigning-champion Los Angeles Kings have put a premium on player loyalty in an era where roster turnover is all but a given. That process continued Wednesday when Lombardi signed defenseman Alec Martinez to a six-year, $24-million contract extension – but it also guarantees the team will have to make changes next summer whether or not they win the Stanley Cup again this season.

Martinez’ contract – and its average annual value of $4-million a season – means the Kings have committed $60.1 million in cap space to just 14 players for next season; given that the cap isn’t guaranteed to rise beyond its current $69 million ceiling next season, that leaves precious little room to pay soon-to-be unrestricted free agent veterans Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams and restricted free agents Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Martin Jones, among others.

This doesn’t mean the deal Martinez got is unfair. Read more

Los Angeles Kings will get salary cap relief during Slava Voynov’s suspension

Matt Larkin
Slava Voynov's salary will no longer count as part of L.A.'s cap hit while he is suspended. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Slava Voynov’s domestic violence saga continues, but its direct impact on the Los Angeles Kings was diminished Friday.

Voynov has been charged with one felony count of corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury. The Kings defenseman, 24, allegedly injured wife Marta Varlamova’s eyebrow, cheek and neck seriously enough to require medical attention, and Voynov was arrested Oct. 20.

In a statement Friday, the NHL announced the existing terms of Voynov’s suspension “will be continued indefinitely.” The league also stated, through NHL.com:

“However, in light of the uncertain and potentially extended period of time that the legal process may entail, the NHL and the NHLPA have agreed to permit the Kings to replace Mr. Voynov’s Salary and Bonuses pursuant to the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury Exception under the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

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How can the NHL even think of hiring Chris Pronger?

Ken Campbell
Chris Pronger (Getty Images)

Full disclosure: I really, really like Chris Pronger. On the ice, he was, in my opinion, one of the most dominant players of his era and a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Off the ice, I consider him a friend. I’m honored to have been invited by him to share in the festivities when the Peterborough Petes raise a banner in his honor Nov. 2. I have his phone number in my list of contacts and we talk regularly, mostly about hockey, but of other things as well. During his career and even in the three years since he has played, Chris Pronger has filled my notebook and tape recorder with insightful, funny and downright eye-popping quotes. I find him intelligent, irreverent and refreshing.

I also have an enormous amount of sympathy for his current situation. Because he’s still listed as an active player for salary cap purposes, he cannot get on with his life. Because he’s still employed by and being paid by the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s stuck in a no-man’s land where he can’t retire and he can’t do much of anything else. Up until last season he was at least scouting for the Flyers, but that arrangement ended when Ron Hextall took over as GM in the off-season. Read more

Blue Jackets win bigger in Ryan Johansen deal

Ken Campbell
Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the end, the Ryan Johansen imbroglio ended up rather predictably and much like many of these situations resolve themselves. Each side gives a little and takes a little, with both being able to save face and capable of claiming they made a good deal.

But that middle part, boy, that was a nasty piece of work. The Blue Jackets had the high ground when it came to what they were offering Johansen on a two-year bridge deal, but they certainly did their part to drag this whole process through the mud. The demands Johansen and agent Kurt Overhardt made were pretty outrageous – although Overhardt says they were erroneous – but the fact that this whole thing got as dirty as it did was largely because of the Blue Jackets and their move to personally besmirch the agent. Read more

Edmonton loses a prospect while Dallas beats the system

Dallas pick Julius Honka (LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the Dallas Stars assigned offensive defenseman Julius Honka to the American League’s Texas Stars. As an 18-year-old experiencing his first NHL training camp, it was no surprise that the Finnish blueliner wouldn’t make the cut. What surprised many observers was that Dallas was allowed to assign Honka to the AHL in the first place.

After all, Honka played in the Western League for Swift Current last season and conventional wisdom held that players drafted out of the CHL who still had major junior eligibility (such as Honka) had to be returned to junior; they couldn’t go to the AHL.

This is the rule that has vexed sometimes-Buffalo Sabre Mikhail Grigorenko for a couple years now, since he was drafted out of the Quebec League. But the Stars were confronted with a glitch in the system.

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GMs feel Jackets pain, but question decision to go public with Ryan Johansen

Ken Campbell
Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen can take solace in one thing, it’s that their peers definitely feel their pain. Other hockey executives aren’t so sure about the Blue Jackets taking their beefs with Ryan Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt so public, but they do understand the frustration Davidson and Kekalainen are experiencing.

In an effort to determine whether the Blue Jackets are handling this standoff with Johansen in the right way, thn.com canvassed 10 current and former GMs for their views on the subject. As has been well documented, Johansen is a restricted free agent with the Blue Jackets and is currently embroiled in a contract dispute that has gotten quite ugly. It’s so poisoned that Davidson recently blamed Overhardt for his handling of the situation, which was followed by the Blue Jackets making public each of the offers they’ve presented to Johansen, all of which have been turned down. Read more

Blue Jackets president John Davidson turns both barrels on Ryan Johansen’s agent

Ken Campbell
Dillon Heatherington, T.J. Tynan, Marko Dano. (Photo by Ken Campbell)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – When Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen took agent Kurt Overhardt to task for his handling of the Ryan Johansen negotiations on Monday, it turned out that was just the warm-up act. When it came to president of hockey operations John Davidson to take his turn, he turned both barrels directly on Overhardt.

This is getting ugly, folks. And personal. The organization has chosen to make the agent the villain in this tale and Overhardt, for his part, wants no part of the public mudslinging. And that’s probably the best plan of attack for him. If someone has to be vilified here, it’s better that it’s the agent rather than the player.

“It makes no sense, Davidson said. “When you see numbers that are thrown at us, we shouldn’t even respond. That’s how bad it is. It’s embarrassing. And if the kid sits out, he sits out. I wonder if the agent’s going to pay him his money back that he’s going to lose by sitting out. Read more