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NHLPA agrees to form committee to examine wide range of internal issues

The NHL Players’ Association has officially endorsed a motion for the formation of a committee to examine the internal operation of its union.

After failing to achieve quorum in a conference call Sunday night, the NHLPA had 72 hours to complete the vote among the 30 player representatives that make up the executive board. The final result was 23 in favor of a review, four against, one abstention and two who could not be reached. In order for any vote to be binding, there must be at least 25 votes and any motion needs at least 20 votes in order to be carried.

It was originally believed that Sunday night’s vote was 19-3 in favor of a review, but the actual vote was 17-4 with one abstention.

It’s believed that St. Louis Blues player rep Eric Brewer abstained from the vote, in part because his teammate Brad Boyes was part of the group that was instrumental in Paul Kelly being fired as executive director. New York Islanders rep Rick DiPietro and Colorado Avalanche rep Adam Foote could not be reached.

The committee will consist of four veteran players – Nicklas Lidstrom, Mark Recchi, Rob Blake and Chris Chelios – and will have far ranging powers, including access to all emails and correspondence that surrounded Kelly’s firing.

The committee will make its recommendations to the executive board and to the committees that will look at the union’s constitution and the one that will be charged with finding Kelly’s permanent replacement.

It will have the power to make recommendations regarding the futures of interim executive director Ian Penny, ombudsman Buzz Hargrove and advisory board member Ron Pink. It will also have the power to make recommendations concerning all positions in the NHLPA, including those of the ombudsman and the six divisional representatives. The ombudsman’s salary is believed to be $130,000 for the part-time position and the divisional representatives, which are six retired players, are each paid $85,000 per year plus expenses for a total of about $120,000 per year for one or two days of work per week.

Meanwhile, some other details of Sunday night’s call have emerged. The players began the call with a motion to have players only on the call, but Penny reportedly asked that he be included, along with former Major League Baseball Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr, who was also on the call. There was some discussion on the matter until Sidney Crosby reportedly requested the players’ request be accommodated, at which time the players were given ownership of the call for about two and a half hours.

It’s also believed that Kelly and the NHLPA are working through an agreement on the rest of his contract. Kelly is owed about $1.5 million in salary and about another $500,000 in bonuses and there has reportedly been some pushback from the NHLPA on that amount. The players have already determined that Kelly’s firing was without cause and the two sides continue to work toward a solution that will keep them out of litigation.

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