SBD/Issue 5/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • Chris Chelios Reportedly Leading Push To Reinstate Paul Kelly

    Could Kelly Return As NHLPA Exec Dir?
    Free agent D and NHLPA Exec Board member Chris Chelios is "planning to talk with other players about the possibility of bringing back Paul Kelly" as Exec Dir of the union, according to a report by French-language Montreal radio station CKAC-AM. Chelios reportedly claims that he was "misinformed when he was told" at last month's NHLPA meeting in Chicago that Kelly was "in a conflict of interest" with Penguins co-Owner Mario Lemieux and Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky. CKAC reported that the "perceived conflict led to Kelly's downfall" (CANWEST NEWS SERVICE, 9/17). NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur writes "in all likelihood, it's far too late" to bring back Kelly. His ouster was "not only a blot of the union's already mottled reputation, but also a blow against the good interest of the game." Reinstating Kelly "would be excellent for hockey," and ideally, the league's top players "who were not consulted on the issue ... would be adamant about finding out what happened." However, that appears to be a "dream," because if "history is any guide, the vast majority of NHL players don't care about this stuff, as long as there are paycheques coming in and skates to be laced" (NATIONAL POST, 9/18).

    I WANT THE TRUTH! The GLOBE & MAIL's Allan Maki reports CAA Sports Hockey co-Heads J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson are "asking their clients to find out what led to Paul Kelly's firing." Barry and Brisson in a statement Thursday noted they have had talked to their clients -- which include Penguins Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane -- as well as other NHLers and said that "some of the things we have learned about the process are very troubling to us." Chelios also said that his former Red Wings teammates "wanted to know why such an important decision was made without their knowledge or consent." Chelios: "They felt they should have been consulted first. They felt I should have gotten the information, and brought it back to them then I could have taken their consensus back to the executive board. I couldn't agree more" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/18). Chelios said that the next NHLPA Exec Board meeting on September 28 "will be important since the 30 player reps will have all garnered feedback from their teammates throughout training camp." Chelios: "That's really the first chance for us to get together and talk about the feedback they got." He added, "We want transparency. The players in Detroit were surprised and disappointed. ... They can't believe they didn't have a say in this" (ESPN.com, 9/17).

    UNION RAILROAD: In Vancouver, Ed Willes writes three weeks following Kelly's removal, the situation at the NHLPA "remains confusing and troubling for hockey fans." If the proceedings are "simply the result of a dysfunctional and chronically inept PA, most fans could care less." But with CBA negotiations with the NHL looming, if this is the "prelude to another long and tortured negotiation followed by another work stoppage, then anyone who cares about the game should be alarmed" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/18).

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  • NFL May Consider Giving Up Control Of Drug-Testing Program

    Pash Says NFL May Give
    Up Control Of Drug Program
    NFL Exec VP & General Counsel Jeff Pash Thursday indicated that the league "might consider giving control of its steroid-testing program to an outside agency if it determines that it cannot continue to run the program effectively in cooperation" with the NFLPA, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The acknowledgment comes after Minnesota court rulings "have put on hold" the suspensions of Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams for testing positive for a banned substance in the StarCaps supplement. Pash: "It doesn't serve anyone's interests to have a program like this fragmented by wide-ranging state laws. If we can't administer the program on our own, we might have to turn to an outside entity like WADA." Pash said the league in the Williamses' case has "a range of further court options." He added that the NFL is "hopeful of meeting with union officials within the next two weeks to resolve the issue." However, Pash noted that the league's "inability to administer its program with uniformity could imperil the independence of a program that generally drew praise from members of Congress in the past." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah said the union's intentions in the StarCaps case "were not to challenge the overall system," but instead were to "protect our players from an isolated abuse and injustice from within the system." Maske reports the NFL giving up control of the program "would represent a significant shift in policy for a league that has administered its testing policy in conjunction with the union for two decades." An NFLPA source said that the union "would like to reach a resolution with the league that would keep the steroid-testing program basically intact." However, Maske notes the NFLPA also has indicated that it "will seek during the current labor negotiations to establish a system by which an independent arbitrator could hear appeals of disciplinary measures taken by the league against players" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/18).

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  • NBA Referees Expecting A Lockout With No CBA Reached

    NBA referees "expected a lockout to be 'imminent'" after negotiations between the National Basketball Referees Association (NBRA) and the league failed to produce a new CBA, according to Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com. The NBA and the NBRA "exchanged further counterproposals Thursday, with the union claiming to have made $1[M] in additional financial concessions," but those talks "ended at an impasse." NBRA Exec Dir Lamell McMorris said that there "remained a crucial unresolved dispute over the same retirement benefit issue, relating to severance pay, that caused commissioner David Stern to abruptly end a formal bargaining session nine days earlier." A source said that there were other unresolved issues, including the "use of D-League and WNBA referees in regular-season NBA games, a separate pension issue concerning employer vs. employee contributions to referees' retirement plans, and myriad other comparatively minor dollars-and-cents issues."  Sheridan noted the NBA referees' training camp is set to begin Sunday, but NBA Exec VP & General Counsel Rich Buchanan Thursday said he is "not optimistic" a deal will be reached (ESPN.com, 9/17). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes the NBA is "not ready to make the same proclamation, but it appears highly likely that replacement referees will take the court when the preseason opens in two weeks." McMorris said that the "chances of a deal being struck before the preseason starts were 'less than 50-50.'" Meanwhile, Beck notes another matter in dispute is the NBRA's "claim of making $2.2[M] in concessions," a figure that "apparently includes about $1[M] that will be saved through the retirement of four veteran referees" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). McMorris: "We remain open to continuing the dialogue and trying to come to a resolution with the league. It's not like we're not willing to negotiate. It's just that the talks ended" (NBA.com, 9/17).

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