Chelios, review committee deny 'hijacking'

The newly created four-player review committee led by former Red Wing Chris Chelios denies it has been "hijacked" by the troubled union.

The newly created four-player review committee that will investigate the internal operations of the NHLPA, as well as the sacking of executive director Paul Kelly two months ago, denies that it has "hijacked" the troubled union.

On Friday and Saturday, interim executive director Ian Penny and six members of the advisory board resigned.

In emails, Penny, advisory board members Ken Baumgartner, Steve Larmer and Ron Pink slammed the head of the review committee, Chris Chelios, for limiting the roles of Penny, the advisory board, the ombudsman and the divisional retired player reps.

Chelios and his fellow review committee members – Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi, responded with a memo to the players on Sunday evening.

"We are disappointed by the suggestions made by Steve Larmer and others that the NHLPA has suspended operations … or that our review committee has hijacked the union somehow, that we had employees under surveillance and suspended the offices of ombudsman, divisional player representatives and advisory board," the memo says.

"We did not do any of that. Regarding the ombudsman, divisional player representatives and advisory board, we simply advised them to strictly follow the constitution until our review is complete.

"The executive board was copied on all of the emails we sent to them so you could be informed every step of the way. As a result, we do not think it is necessary to further address this criticism of us. We believe our memos were clear."

The review committee revealed in its memo that it was to meet on Monday with "one of the world's leading forensic review firms and two of Canada's leading lawyers.

"We are confident that this careful approach will enable us to provide the executive board with ALL the information necessary for all of us to fix, once and for all, the problems that have plagued this association for too long," the memo states. "We need to clearly understand everything we can about how we got into this embarrassing situation before we can fix it."

With Penny's departure, the review committee has asked longtime NHLPA lawyers Mike Ouellet, the union's chief of business affairs, and general counsel Roland Lee to run the Toronto office until the situation can be rectified.

"[Ouellet and Lee] have merely been asked to assume the functions of the two jobs Ian vacated until the matter can be properly addressed by the executive board as the constitution stipulates," says the memo. "We did, however, feel it was necessary to address the issue on a temporary basis based on the concerns we heard from the staff. 

"The alternative was that there would be no temporary leadership in the office and that is not an acceptable situation. We need to hold this [conference] call as quickly as possible and address the functioning of the office with the support of the executive board."

That conference call likely will not happen until next Sunday or Monday, when the NHLPA has a scheduled conference call on two relatively light nights in terms of its schedule.