And the hockey world is about to find out how all the hype, the legend that has grown up around the longtime baseball union leader translates to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s world.
From the outside, that would appear to come down to the simple question of whether Fehr can keep his constituents on point once the second lockout in eight years begins at 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
But that’s only part of it.
With the two sides edging fractionally toward a deal with a pair of counterproposals Wednesday, the days leading up to what would be the start of the 2012-13 season in early October will test Fehr’s skills, not just as a hard negotiator but as one who is savvy enough to understand the landscape and see two, three, eight months down the road.
It’s a landscape that is particularly foreboding.
As we keep saying, never mind the right and wrong of whether or how far the players should move off their current 57 percent of hockey-related revenues. Never mind that it’s distasteful and hypocritical for owners to have signed players to long-term contracts this offseason knowing (or assuming or, at the very least, hoping) they wouldn’t have to pay those contracts in full.