A convicted fraudster with a history of destroying dreams of young hockey players has no official connection to the Canadian Hockey League Players' Association, the fledgling union claims.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the CHLPA "categorically" denied any connection with Randy Gumbley, a man who has admitted to taking $100,000 from hockey parents for their children to play in an elite Canadian junior league that did not exist.
On Wednesday, news reports surfaced that an elusive spokesman for the CHLPA by the name of Derek Clarke might actually be Gumbley.
Clarke, a key figure advocating the unionization of 1,300 junior players in the Canadian Hockey League, has only been heard in interviews by phone.
Few people have ever met him and his background has been called into question.
"This issue is more than an smokescreen," the CHL said in a press release. "It's a high-handed union-busting tactic to undermine the union in the eyes of the players. It's outrageous!
"This will be the last statement from the CHLPA regarding this topic."
CHL president David Branch told the Toronto Sun he retained a private investigator to look into Clarke's identity in the interest of security for its players. One man who has met Clarke is former NHLer Georges Laraque, the public face and executive director of the CHLPA.
In an interview with TVA sports reporter Stephane Gonzalez on Wednesday, Laraque identified a photo of Gumbley as Clarke. He retracted the claim in a subsequent interview.
In 2009, Gumbley was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 11 months of night curfew for defrauding parents into paying for a non-existent hockey league and admission to a fictitious private hockey school called Walton Gates Academy.
Gumbley claimed it was a failed business venture that was not planned out well.
He agreed to pay restitution to his nine victims as a condition of avoiding jail for two years.
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- Canadian Hockey League