It’s time for another column of screenshots. Here, as always, we’re breaking down a few different hockey topics into smaller bytes. You probably know this by now, so let’s put any further introduction aside and get straight to the point.
– The NHL Players’ Association announced Friday that it would begin searching for a future replacement for current CEO Donald Fehr. The seven-member Players’ Board made the announcement in the wake of revelations about former NHL player Kyle Beach’s sexual assault, although, to be clear, an independent investigation into Beach’s plight found no evidence of wrongdoing by Fehr or union officials.
However, there are already hockey power brokers willing to throw their hats in the ring to replace Fehr. Whether they’re current players’ agents or union officials themselves — for example, Fehr’s current NHLPA special assistant, former NHL defenseman Matthieu Schneider is said to be interested in the job — much will be about position in the race for the union reins .
But Fehr’s replacement’s primary role isn’t to take a more hostile stance toward NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners who employ him — though that might later be the case. Currently, the union has virtually no leverage when it comes to improving the current collective bargaining agreement, which covers the league’s 2025/26 season. No, the most important task for the new NHLPA executive director is much less ambitious: The union simply needs to boost the morale of union members and find ways to connect them more closely to their work situation.
Here’s an example of the clear uneasiness among players and the CBA: On a recent conference call between Fehr and members, a source said only about 80 players attended. That’s 80 players out of 750 players. That’s almost 10 percent. That’s awful.
Players’ reluctance to move up and be informed by their union is probably music to Bettman’s and the owners’ ears, but it is currently doing nothing for the plight of the players, nor for the future of young players coming into the league . Fehr may stay until after the 2024 Ice Hockey World Championship, but whoever takes over for him must be a bridge builder among the players and a motivating force for them. That’s the basis of the gig.
– Saturday’s news that the Detroit Red Wings would not be bringing back head coach Jeff Blashill was more than justified and, quite frankly, long overdue. The Wings have been an absolute nightmare for most of this season, and while that was partly due to their abysmal goalkeeping and uneven roster, there was no question Blashill’s time at the helm of the team was about to end. In six seasons behind Detroit’s bench, Blashill has had no structural answers to what plagued the Wings. His sacking is not celebrated, but the reality is that many coaches in the league had far less chance of success prior to their sacking; It’s breathtaking in a way Blashill has lasted so long without ever making the playoffs.
Detroit boss Steve Yzerman — who left Tampa Bay to take over the Wings’ GM job in 2019 — must now lend his managerial imprint to the team by using his own pick to replace Blashill. It’s likely Yzerman will wait until the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs to name a new head coach so he has a full suite of potential talent that includes veteran coaches who were fired after the postseason.
But don’t expect Yzerman to be dating a well-known personality. When Yzerman hired Jon Cooper as the Lightning’s head coach in 2013, Cooper was an unknown quantity to many. Since then, he has proven to be one of football’s best coaches. Yzerman can once again pick someone off the mainstream radar, and if he’s half as successful with Blashill’s replacement as he was with Cooper, Red Wings fans will be delighted.
– Montreal Canadiens star goalie Carey Price said this weekend he’s not sure he’ll be back next season. If it turns out he was in his final NHL game, we pay tribute to him here as a competitor, philanthropist and an admirable example of what can happen when players are brave enough to admit they need help and in the NHL/ NHLPA Players Board Aid Program.
Young players can count on Price’s honesty and know that they have the support of the league and the union in any battles they may have to keep them healthy, both physically and mentally. If Price plays again, that’s great; If not, he’s earned a great legacy as a Habs superstar and one of the best netminders in recent memory. All the best to him and his family.