For those of you interested in NHLPA news, the Carolina Hurricanes recently voted Erik Cole to act on their behalf regarding union matters for this coming season. Tim Gleason, who was the previous player's rep, stepped down after two years of service.
Things have not been running very smoothly within the NHLPA, to say the least. Since the lockout, they have fired three Executive Directors and are still in the process of searching for another new leader at the present time.
Bob Goodenow was released shortly after the lockout was resolved. His successor, Ted Saskin was fired in the summer of 2007. Then Paul Kelly, the most recent chief, was let go a few months ago in a move that greatly surprised many in the hockey world. A couple of other high level employees were upset and quit after Kelly was fired.
It seems like there is no one steering the ship over at headquarters these days and there are questions about the future leadership and direction of the organization. Cole was gracious enough to take some time and answer a few of these questions for me. (I interviewed him for this about a week ago, before he went on injured reserve.)
Canes Country: How did you get to be player’s rep for Carolina? What is the procedure?
Cole: Well, first someone has to volunteer or they nominate you. Then we hold a vote. Tim Gleason had been our rep for a couple of years, and he was looking for help in the responsibilities. In talking with some other veteran players around the league, I decided to volunteer my services and we had a vote and I was voted in.
CC: In the search for a new President, or Executive Director, are there any front runners?
Cole: There are certainly not any front runners at this time. Right now we are in the process of putting together a search committee of players and advisers which will begin the process and then report back to the executive board, at which point recommendations will be made. Then we will move forward with bringing that information back to our teammates and then there will be discussion about the pros and cons of every candidate and then we will move forward from there.
CC: Is there a time table on that? Any deadlines that need to be met?
Cole: The number one thing we have to do now is to clear up a few things, as far as our constitution, where we feel there might be some areas where we could improve it. We have to make decisions on both the Ian Penny and Paul Kelly settlements, and moving forward with finding a new executive director, at the same time we have a review going on with four veteran players who are trying to determine who in the office is doing the best work for the players, and who isn’t. Finding where some of the shortfalls are coming from and more decisions could be made about that.
CC: During this search process who is making the decisions or running things?
Cole: There is kind of a committee of guys who are running things, not just one guy. Not like an interim director or anything like that right now. It’s the same situation we had when Ted Saskin was relieved of his duties. Same setup so that everything in the day to day operations are running smoothly.
CC: How often do they keep in contact with you?
Cole: The divisional player reps are in contact with the team player reps almost on a daily basis. We get phone calls, emails, and text messages almost daily from Joe Ricci. There is certainly as much information as you want or need, on an ongoing basis.
CC: From your perspective, do you see any possible obstacles in future negotiations for the new CBA?
Cole: I won’t handle CBA negotiations so I think that once we get a new Executive Director, he will have to sort that out and that would be a question you would have to ask him.
CC: How has the relationship been so far with the other player reps? Does there seem to be general agreement on things that have come up?
Cole: Yes, a couple of weeks ago we had a conference call and several issues had to be voted on and I don’t think there was any one issue that did not result in a 30-0 vote. I think that’s good, the votes coming out like that and it shows good unity so far. Everyone seems to be onboard and on the same page.