Ex-player Steve Larmer, one of the most respected voices in the NHL Players' Association over the past two decades, has resigned from the NHLPA advisory board a day after interim executive director Ian Penny parted ways with the tattered union.
Larmer sent a resignation email to the entire player membership Saturday afternoon, warning the players that "long-term damage" will occur to the hockey players' union if Chris Chelios is allowed to continue in his role on the newly created four-member review committee with Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi.
Larmer and Chelios were teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks for three seasons in the early 1990s.
Larmer served as the Hawks' player rep from 1989 until 1993. After he retired, Larmer was appointed head of NHLPA player relations from 1998 to 2005.
He resigned in 2005 from that position because he felt then executive director Ted Saskin violated the union's constitution. Saskin was later fired amid allegations that he read players' emails for his personal gain.
At the urging of Chelios and Penny, Larmer later rejoined the NHLPA as an advisory board member.
"I resigned the last time because the constitution was not being followed," Larmer wrote in his email. "Once again I have decided that it's best that I move on since the constitution is not being followed, the advisory board is being shut out and, once again, very few are making decisions for the group."
Other board members quit
Penny resigned Friday because the review committee had limited the duties of the interim director's office, the advisory board and interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove earlier this week.
Advisory board members Ron Pink, Ian Troop and Ken Baumgartner also resigned.
"To do nothing would be part and parcel to what is going on now," Larmer said. "If you allow Chris Chelios to continue to lead a charge for what appears to be a personal grudge for terminating Paul Kelly, whom he fully supports, that is your decision and you will be left to face the long-term damage that will occur.
"Hopefully you will decide to do what is right and restore all offices of the NHLPA and start functioning as a union so you can start the process of finding a new executive director. As this is my resignation letter, I wish you all the best of luck in the future."
Kelly was removed as head of the NHLPA by a player-executive vote of 22-5 in late August.
Among reasons for his dismissal, Kelly was accused of obtaining access to a transcript from a private player-executive meeting in Las Vegas, in which his leadership was discussed.
Kelly never denied reading the confidential transcripts, but he stated he had concerns that the NHLPA's constitution was not followed because Penny was given a five-year extension at the meeting.
Larmer writes in his email that what Kelly did "was wrong."
He said another review of the NHLPA's internal workings is not needed, but a search for a new executive director must begin. Chelios, Blake, Lidstrom and Recchi, with the help of a third party, want to review all issues related to the Kelly firing, as well as the NHLPA's operations.
'Can't reinvent wheel'
"The four veteran players on the review committee say they are focused on strengthening and unifying the PA as we move forward to ensure we are in a strong position for collective bargaining," Larmer wrote.
"If they are not aware, they should know that this was done four years ago after Shelia Block and Chris Paillare, two lawyers, gave their report on the internal issues of the NHLPA. This was done four years ago after meeting with business leaders and lawyers to form a new constitution. You can't reinvent the wheel.
"You should be focused on finding a new executive director, the right person, someone to lead you that you can trust."
Chelios did not immediately return a phone call from CBCSports.ca.
Larmer also criticized the NHLPA for its treatment of Penny, who played a role in rebuilding the union after the turmoil surrounding the Saskin affair.
"[Penny] is the same man who blew the whistle on Ted Saskin and tried to keep Paul Kelly on the straight and narrow for the betterment of the players," Larmer said.
"I find it hard to believe that Chris would turn on Ian Penny when they worked hand-in-hand by calling out Ted Saskin. In fact, if it were not for Ian Penny, Chris Chelios and the others who fought hard for the truth would never have been reimbursed for their efforts."