Chelios barks, NHLPA bites
The loud, determined bark of Chris Chelios has alarmed enough NHLPA members about the way Paul Kelly was ousted as the union's executive director two months ago to prompt an investigation.
Three days after an NHLPA executive board conference call didn't produce sufficient votes to form a committee to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into why Kelly was sacked, Chelios received enough support on Wednesday.
Under the NHLPA constitution, there has to be a minimum 25 votes cast for a quorum and at least 20 for the issue at stake to pass. But if there are not enough votes for a quorum, the players who did not vote have 72 hours to make a decision via email or phone.
The initial vote on Sunday was 19-3 as to whether Chelios, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mark Recchi and Rob Blake should make up the investigating committee. The final vote wound up 25-5, according to TSN, but an NHLPA spokesman could not confirm the final tally.
"The NHLPA will not be commenting on this internal matter at this time," was a statement the union issued on Wednesday evening.
At this point, it doesn't appear that any player wants to publicly take on Chelios.
The 47-year-old defenceman, who signed with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL on Wednesday, has his supporters. But there are players who are concerned about Chelios's agenda.
The biggest concern appears to be who will conduct the actual review. Will it be Chelios and the three veteran players alone or will they work together with an independent investigator, as was the case when Ted Saskin was fired after he was investigated for allegations that he monitored players' emails for personal gain. Back then, the NHLPA hired Toronto lawyer Sheila Block to lead a probe.
"There has to be a third party involved or Chris loses credibility on this matter," said a player, who requested anonymity. "After all, the season is underway. When are these guys going to have the time to read all the emails and all the paperwork they said they will, or do they give the stuff to their agents?'
Another player was concerned that with the Chelios investigation the search for Kelly's replacement continues to be left "on the back burner." The NHLPA player executive board has yet to set up a search committee for a new leader.
With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in September 2011, the union's disarray and division plays into the NHL's hands.