by PuckStopsHere on 03/01/09 at 02:50 AM ET
There was a bit of a stir created when Eric Lindros resigned as NHLPA ombudsman. Given the past corruption in the NHLPA history, a man to watch the head of the player’s association is a very positive step. Watching that man leave the position unappreciated and without having given much of a chance by the players in the league was a bad thing. Worse was Paul Kelly, the head of the NHLPA, openly campaigning for days when there was no ombudsman. Since the ombudsman’s job is to watch Kelly, there is no way Kelly should be calling for his removal.
The NHLPA is acting to try to fix those problems. Buzz Hargrove has accepted the position as interim ombudsman. This shows that the NHLPA is serious about having a qualified ombudsman.
.For those of you who are unfamiliar with Canadian events, Buzz Hargrove is a legendary figure in Canadian unions. He was the head of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union (CAW) for twelve years and his endorsement was very important in several Canadian elections. Here is a wikipedia page telling of his story. This is the Canadian equivalent of Jimmy Hoffa Jr. in his retirement taking the ombudsman position.
Hargrove leaves his position on the NHLPA advisory board, which is a group of some high power people who are available on a part time basis to advise the player’s union.
This shows that the NHLPA is serious about the ombudsman’s role. While it looked like the position may be dead in the water after Eric Lindros left it, they have a new interim ombudsman who is probably over-qualified for the position. It clearly shows that resources will be given to the ombudsman position.
A search for a permanent ombudsman will begin this summer. The NHLPA probably wants somebody with legal or business training who has a hockey background for the position. In other words, they want somebody who could be an NHL general manager. Is such a man available? We shall see. In the meantime, how well will the player’s accept Buzz Hargrove? He lacks a hockey background - in that he was never a player at a high level.
Adding a man with the stature of Hargrove to the NHLPA ombudsman position shows the NHLPA is going to give the position a serious try. It wasn’t clear after the Eric Lindros departure if that would happen. Lindros might not have been the right man for the job, but a new permanent man will be found who hopefully can do it better. In the meantime, having somebody of the stature of Buzz Hargrove filling the role on an interim basis does a lot to raise the stature of the position and establish it in the NHLPA.
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