Chelios may still get way with NHLPA

The number one reaction to the NHL Players' Association's 19-3 vote in favour of forming a players committee to review the entire union has been disappointment.

The No. 1 reaction to the NHLPA's 19-3 vote in favour of forming a players committee to review the entire organization has been disappointment.

This sentiment was expressed because most players and agents felt that the Chris Chelios-led conference on Sunday evening was an extremely important step in rebuilding the tattered union.

But eight player reps either did not partake in the call or did not vote, leaving Chelios one vote short of the necessary 20 and three shy of the 25 required for a quorum.

Under the new NHLPA constitution, players can still cast a vote up to 72 hours after the conference call. The speculation is that Chelios will eventually get his desired result.

The Chelios plan

Chelios has been reaching out to several highly respected former players, asking them to join a kind of "leadership council" that will run the union until a new executive director is found to replace the fired Paul Kelly.

Chelios also wants to remove at least two members of the NHLPA's advisory board — Ron Pink and Dan O'Neill — along with ombudsman Buzz Hargrove for their roles in Kelly's termination. He would also like an official review of general counsel Ian Penny's contract.

There were no NHL games on Sunday and that has observers confused as to why there wasn't 100 per cent participation on the conference call. The players often have been accused of apathy toward union matters, but it is difficult to interpret the exact reasons as to why only 22 of the 30 voted on Sunday.

One reason bandied about on Monday was that some players who don't agree with Chelios felt he will keep pushing anyway with his agenda and eventually get his way.

The essence of the conference call was to put together a committee to perform a review on the entire NHLPA operation, a timely process in which plenty of e-mails will have to be reviewed.

This isn't the first a review of this nature for the NHLPA.

When Ted Saskin was investigated for allegations that he monitored players' e-mails for personal gain, the NHLPA hired Toronto lawyer Sheila Block to lead a probe. But instead of an independent person to lead this investigation, Chelios has asked the player executive board for approval of a committee that consists of himself along with respected active veterans Rob Blake, Nik Lidstrom and Mark Recchi.

Reached on Monday, Chelios declined to comment about the conference call.

Since the player executive board decided to oust executive director Paul Kelly by a vote of 22-5 in late August, there has been a division among the players and agents over the controversial decision.

Some players believe it was the right move for reasons that they have kept, for the most part, under wraps. Others, like Chelios, remain upset and continue to kick up a storm.

Pitched plan to clean house

Chelios spent the last couple of weeks contacting high-profile veterans and recent retirees, pitching his plan for cleaning house at the upper levels of the NHLPA. He knew he needed a bold plan to convince the moderates.

Joe Sakic and Mats Sundin declined, while Mike Richter remains a possibility. Chelios even made peace with Trevor Linden and Brendan Shanahan, two men he feuded with over previous union issues.

Shanahan, however, was unwilling to commit this time because of his uncertain future as a player, so Chelios turned to active players. The ones who stood out were Lidstrom and Blake, whose involvement certainly gave Chelios's endeavour credibility.

It also should be pointed out that no individual of the four-player committee share the same agent. Chelios represents himself, while Lidstrom (Don Meehan), Blake (Pat Brisson) and Recchi (Rick Curran) each have different representatives. Sakic (Don Baizley) and Richter (current Canucks GM Mike Gillis) would provide more diversity.

Why does this give more credence to the committee? There is a belief that agents are behind the movement to oust interim executive director Ian Penny, who has stated that he will not seek the executive director position full-time.

Penny is seen as anti-agent — as was his mentor Bob Goodenow, who preceded Sasksin as the PA's top man and did not trust agents — and it's telling that so many high-powered ones put aside their own distrust of each other to throw their support behind Chelios's determination.

Meanwhile, with the Chelios movement two other important matters have been put on hold.

During an Oct. 4 conference call, the players agreed to set up a committee to find Kelly's replacement and another committee to review the new constitution that was put together after the Saskin firing.


Elliotte Friedman is a reporter for Hockey Night In Canada and blogs regularly at Wharnsby, widely regarded as one of the top hockey journalists in the country, writes daily for will provide you with daily news and notes to illustrate what happens inside the world of hockey.They look forward to reading your comments!