After taking a major public relations hit during the 2004 lockout that saw the eventual ouster of former Executive Director Bob Goodenow and the naming of Paul Kelly as the eventual replacement instead of Ted Saskin, members of the National Hockey League Players' Association ratified a new constitution on October 30th.
Over the summer, Executive Board meetings took place before Kelly was appointed to be the new man to be in charge of the NHLPA. Craig Adams, Eric Lindros, Andrew Peters and Matt Stajan were given the responsibility to be a key part of the constitution review process.
The new constitution was approved by secret ballot, so don't expect any recognizable names to be on public record as to how specific players voted on it. Given the disaster of the lockout which ultimately the 2004-2005 season was wiped out, the NHLPA needed some rebuilding of not just their image, but in getting their house back in order. Among the significant changes, they include:
* no more Executive Committee where there was a President and Vice President position... now club player representatives from each of the 30 NHL teams will have equal voting power on the Executive Board while the Executive Director and General Counsel will now be two separate non-voting positions instead of being held by the same person
*the Executive Board can appoint an "Ombudsman" where his role would be to recommend union members that can serve as a Divisional Player Representative, primarily six former players to be liaisons for current players in each of the six NHL divisions
* the introduction of an Advisory Board where NHLPA members with expertise in law, corporate affairs, finance, marketing, labor relations and player representation can be utilized in various matters that affect the players union
"The players have put together an exceptional constitution with the process that brought about the changes being just as significant as what their efforts produced," Kelly stated in the NHLPA's press release. "From the very beginning of the review, players consulted with each other, conducted surveys and group discussion, and then affirmed the new constitution by secret ballot. It's highly appropriate that the players’ constitution was constructed by the players themselves."
One way or the other, the players need to be united again and in a way that will benefit not just the NHLPA, but the league as well. When it comes to important business meetings between the two sides on any hockey matters that effect everyone, there is a pressing need to be sure all the players are on the same page. What really was disturbing during the lockout were revolts and defections from union management by the players when the lockout had its hardest grip.
With a new Executive Director in place with Paul Kelly at the helm and now a new constitution, it can only be a good sign that the NHLPA is on its way back to being a healthy players union.