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NHLPA structure - checks and balances?

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12-27-2012, 03:29 AM
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NHLPA structure - checks and balances?

I've been thinking a lot lately about this whole debacle.

It seems like the NHLPA has experienced these states:

1) Governed absolutely by a powerful leader - led to betrayal (Eagleson)
2) Governed absolutely by a powerful leader - led to prosperity (Goodenow)
3) Governed absolutely by a powerful leader - led to failure (Goodenow again)
4) Governed by leadership eventually undermined by union factions or just puppet leadership (Goodenow, Saskin, Penny, Ouellet, Kelly)
5) Governed absolutely by a powerful leader - led to failure (Fehr)

It seems to me that these states are not acceptable. Somehow there needs to be a system in which the views and vision of a strong leader are encouraged - but the membership doesn't need to be dragged down into either fraud or an un-winnable ideological battle as it is in the current lockout.

For example, IMO the player stance and intransigence was perfectly understandable in 2005 for ideological reasons - who could expect them to just 'accept' a cap? But not in 2012.

However, nor should the membership and executives be allowed to 'hijack' leadership as in #4.

Note that every executive director has been a lawyer by trade. Not sure if this makes a difference or not.

Another note - the only 'hockey guy' that I know of in the list of directors was Goodenow. He was also the most successful IMO.

So what is to be done with the structure of the union? IMO Fehr's moves to change the union constitution have been a sign of a cycle in the NHLPA between being bent to will of a strong individual (Eagleson), and then having politics undermine leaders, and now back to a situation where a strong individual can again dictate almost all the actions of the union.

How can the players change their union so that it has a balance? Another factor is that hockey players are infamously reluctant to take on union duties.

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