Oh oh don’t look now, but the folks that brought the sports world into the era of the lengthy labour dispute, have offered up their support to the NHLPA.
Donald Fehr of the Major League Baseball Players Association has sent a letter of support to his brethren in the NHLPA expressing solidarity in a trying time.
Fehr writes “We understand how difficult it can be and we know how long it can last. But we also know what is at stake”. Fehr also went on to express the ideal of maintaining a free market as a worthwhile reason to be on the line.
Baseball and Hockey are the only two “major league” sports that do not have a salary camp, so it’s in his membership’s best interests to come out in support of the NHLPA as it fights the good fight for bonus clauses, incremental pay increases and no trade clauses.
And if Bob Goodenow finds himself bogged down in the details of a work stoppage, then Fehr is his guy. In the last 30 years, Baseball has had 8 work stoppages, the longest and most bitter that of 1994.
In that year, baseball was behind locked gates for 104 days, wiping out league playoffs and the World Series, extending on into the start of the following season. It is also pointed out as pivotal year in the decline of baseball in many cities of North America, most recently exhibited in the death of the Montreal Expos.
For the NHLPA the timing of the support is not particularly great, Sports fans across Canada are still to a degree in shock and mourning over the actual relocation of the Expos to Washington, that after so many failed attempts to move the long suffering team. To have the baseball union jumping into the situation at this time will only serve to focus the public to examine how sports has changed and not for the better.
The watershed moment for that part of Canadianna was the labour disruption of 1994, an event that the Expos never recovered from. For Hockey fans the memory brings back thoughts of cancelled seasons and the death rattle of a once proud franchise.
A situation that may be repeated in larger numbers in hockey, should this dispute carry on for any length of time. The support for the players is no doubt quite welcome, but the reminder of what is at stake probably more important for the fan!