With the condition of cancer-stricken union chief Michael Weiner not improving, MLB Players Association officials have discussed the possibility of a return of his predecessor, NHLPA director Donald Fehr, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Fehr, who led the baseball union for 26 years through collusion cases and labor battles, including the infamous 1994 strike, ceded the union's executive director position to Weiner in 2009. Whether Fehr would consider rejoining the union in a senior management role or as an adviser is unclear, and sources said Fehr has neither discussed a return nor has any inclination to leave the NHLPA. His name nevertheless surfaced as baseball union officials aim for the delicate balance between hatching a contingency plan and respecting Weiner's continued work on MLBPA business, sources said.
When reached by Yahoo! Sports, Fehr and the MLBPA declined comment.
Fehr is one of a number of names being considered by the union in case Weiner's health worsens. Less than a year ago, Weiner, 51, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He is on his fourth round of cancer treatments.
Weiner plans on attending the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game at Citi Field on Monday and Tuesday, a source said.
Fehr, who turns 65 in a week, joined the NHLPA a year after leaving the MLBPA. He guided the hockey players through a 119-day lockout this past NHL season, salvaging more than half the season. The NHLPA turned to him after years of labor discord, hoping he would stabilize the union as he had in baseball.
His assistance in the landmark Messersmith-McNally case that won baseball players free agency in 1975 led to a full-time position as the MLBPA's general counsel. Following longtime union leader Marvin Miller's retirement, Ken Moffett took over for less than a year before Fehr, one of the most respected union leaders of his generation, took the reins for more than a quarter-century.
Weiner, who built a reputation as one of the sharpest minds in baseball while general counsel under Fehr, negotiated the most recent collective-bargaining agreement, which runs through the 2016 season. It will mark the 21st consecutive year of labor peace, the longest since the union formed as well as the longest in American professional sports.
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