Baumgartner swings at new NHLPA review committee

In his resignation email from the NHLPA advisory board, released over the weekend, ex-player Ken Baumgartner questions the motives of the union's four-member review committee.

In resignation email, ex-player questions motives of some involved in union purge

In his resignation email from the NHLPA advisory board, issued over the weekend, ex-player Ken Baumgartner questions the motives of the union's four-member review committee.

Baumgartner and fellow advisory board members Ron Pink, Steve Larmer, Ian Troop and Dan O’Neill resigned after interim executive director Ian Penny parted ways with the NHL Players' Association on Friday.

Each of the six vacated their positions because they felt that their roles had been restricted by the newly created review committee of Chris Chelios, Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi so much that they could no longer perform their duties.

The review committee was approved by the player executive two weeks ago by a vote of 25-5 to examine details surrounding the sacking of executive director Paul Kelly two months back as well as the internal operations of the NHLPA office.

Baumgartner, an ex-player who was an NHLPA vice-president from 1993 to 1999, urged players to get involved in their union.

"Get involved and ask questions," Baumgartner wrote in his resignation email. "Not just now but in the future. Care about the business side of the sport and players’ rights. The strength of the union lies in your locker rooms.

"Ask whether the players and their advisers taking you down this dangerous path have ulterior motives. Revenge? Personal ambitions? Attempts to save face?

"I have grave concerns around the direction that the review committee is taking you. Those who loudly proclaim to protect the constitution appear to have ignored it. The role that I accepted no longer exists, and I can be of no use to you in the current structure."

With Penny and the handful of advisory board members gone, the review committee has installed long-time NHLPA lawyers Mike Ouellet and Roland Lee to run the union's office in Toronto. Ouellet is the union’s chief of business affairs, Lee a general counsel.

Since Kelly was terminated from his position by a 22-5 vote after a lengthy meeting in Chicago in late August, there have been many leaks to reporters about the fallout, the division within the NHLPA and the content of conference calls among the union's executive board.

Baumgartner warned the players that this must stop.

"Private union matters should remain in the locker room and PA offices," he said. "Internal disagreements should not be waged through the press.

"Some members of the media may have conflicting interests, leading to biased or inaccurate reporting."

Chelios, who is playing with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and had a home game against the Rockford Ice Hogs on Sunday, did not return a weekend phone call to discuss the various charges that Penny, Larmer and Baumgartner have made in their recent emails.


Tim has covered the hockey landscape and other sports in Canada for three decades for CBC Sports, the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun. He has been to three Winter Olympics, 11 Stanley Cups, a world championship as well as 17 world junior championships, 13 Memorial Cups and 13 University Cups. The native of Waterloo, Ont., always has his eye out for an underdog story.