Monday, November 2, 2009
Sources: Talks pick up for NHLPA board
By Pierre LeBrun
The executive board of the NHL Players' Association held an emergency conference call Sunday night, sources told ESPN.com, feeling the need to quickly convene after a turbulent weekend.
In the wake of Ian Penny's departure Friday as general counsel and interim executive director as well as the resignation of outside counsel and advisory board members through the course of the weekend, the players' union got the board together, or the player reps, on Sunday night to take the pulse of the situation.
The four-man review committee of Chris Chelios, Rob Blake, Mark Recchi and Nick Lidstrom clarified its decision to ask Mike Ouellet, the chief of business affairs, and Rolland Lee, associate counsel, to temporarily run the NHLPA office in the wake of the leadership vacuum.
Sources told ESPN.com that the board agreed with the four-man committee that Ouellet, Lee and other senior staff would help run the office until further notice.
Neither an interim executive director nor an interim general counsel has been named, and it's not clear when that would happen.
The next executive board conference call has not yet been scheduled although a possibility is next Sunday night.
In the meantime, the four-man review committee was given the green light on the call Sunday night to continue with its investigation of what's transpired at the player's union since the new constitution went into effect a few years ago, controversial events that include the firing of Paul Kelly as executive director Aug. 31.
Sources told ESPN.com that NHLPA ombudsman Buzz Hargrove, a key figure in Kelly's ousting, had to answer to some tough questions on Sunday's call.
Of note, there has been much made over the last few days regarding the apparent empty offices at the Toronto-based NHLPA but it's worth pointing out that despite the defections of advisors and outside counsel, only one full-time staff position has left -- Penny. There remains 44 full-time employees on staff working at the union.
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.