NHLPA not serving its members, players must drive change

In the aftermath of the investigation that cleared NHLPA head Donald Fehr of any wrongdoing in handling the Kyle Beach allegations, the Zone Time crew ask what the role of the NHLPA is and whether its current function is fit for purpose.

Video Transcript

SAM CHANG: What has the NHLPA done? What is the purpose of the NHLPA? Because as far as I can tell, in the entire time I've been a hockey fan, what the NHLPA does, is they care about hockey-related revenue. They care about escrow. They care about getting, like, their 50% share from the owners.

And they do absolutely nothing else for their players, nothing. Like, they are an embarrassment. Like, if you go to their website right now, the first team on their player rep list is the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. It says Josh Madson is their rep. Josh Madson is a Colorado Avalanche.

- Yeah, jeez.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Jeez.

RAHEF ISSA: [INAUDIBLE]

SAM CHANG: What is happening here?

RAHEF ISSA: Chris Pronger explaining things to young NHL players on Twitter. Because the NHLPA is effectively useless. And their job-- their job-- their supposed job, is they're supposed to be advocates for the players in the NHL. Like, this is the-- these are NHL players. This is their union. And they just-- they consistently fail at doing the one thing they're supposed to do.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: We'll get to Chris Pronger at a moment. But just keeping with money here-- in terms of them caring about hockey-related revenues and escrow and all that-- like, the players aren't exactly swimming in money compared to some of the other big-name athletes across North America and other parts of the world, as well. So you can't tell me, like, hey, man, at least they're making money. Like--

RAHEF ISSA: Yeah.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: --there's a lot of money being left on the table here. And the owners are taking it all up.

RAHEF ISSA: And most players-- and most players don't even understand how escrow works. Like, maybe they should start off with that first. Like--

- Yeah. I think to your point, I think the players in the league need to start caring about who is representing them. I think the players in the league need to start caring about things other than what's going on in the ice. I don't know. Do you like the way the league-- the league is? I think there are a lot of issues.

I would not be surprised if a lot of the complaints or frustrations that we have, the players have as well. But they just don't want to say anything because they don't want to be a distraction. Right? So it's just like, that's the only way things are going to get better. So I think-- honestly, I think this is actually a pretty-- a good, opportune time for the NHLPA to go in the right-- go in a positive direction.

I don't know what the procedures are. I don't know what the rules are. But if I'm, like, Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews or-- I don't know-- Nathan MacKinnon, whatever, I say, wow, Donald Fehr, you're picking their successor? Actually, no. You kind of suck. I think someone else should do it.

That would be huge. And I think that's what you need to see. You need the players in the league to care about the league. And I think that that's the main thing. When it comes to the NHL, there's the league, and there's hockey. And the players in the league only care about the hockey, which makes sense. But if you want the league to be better, you have to care about the league, too, and that means doing your part.

That means having more star players being the reps for teams. Like, I'm sorry. No disrespect to Josh Madson. But, like, Josh Madson should not be the rep of the Anaheim Ducks at that time. It should be Getzlaf, or it should be Troy Terry, or it should be Trevor Zegras, or something like that. Like, you need the faces of the teams to actively be part of these things.

And I think that's the only way things are going to change. And if not, if you just stay to the same-- play hockey, win games, yada, yada, yada, then things aren't going to change.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I'd counterpoint. I think you need a mix of both. You need some of the big faces there. But let's not discount any of the actual educated and smart hockey players--

- Yeah.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: --across different teams who could actually be qualified to be either a main player rep or an alternate player rep and may know a thing or two about how to voice certain things or go about certain discussions in those NHLPA discussions or anything to do with the league.

- Mm-hm.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think that's something that should also--

- That's true.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That shouldn't be discounted. I don't know what--

SAM CHANG: I was going to say--

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. Go ahead.

SAM CHANG: Sorry. I was going to say, to the extent that somebody is a captain of a team, I think there is probably an element of them that is more of the, fall in line, don't be a distraction type. So I agree. It should be faces of the game, but only to the extent that those faces of the game are more disruptors and not, like--

- Yeah.

SAM CHANG: --play for-- play for the logo in front and not the name on the back.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, or someone, or people who are going to be outspoken and are unafraid of saying, you know, hey, this needs to be fixed, or something that needs to be done. Like, I don't know how often Brendan Gallagher speaks about player issues or anything like that, but considering how amped up he can get about the officiating, imagine him in a room talking about NHLPA stuff. Right? Like--

- Yeah.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I think that would do wonders. If that's what he's done in the past, I really am not completely sure. I know-- I think he's the alternate player rep, at least on the NHLPA website. But as we can all tell from the Josh Madson example, it could still use some updating.

But all that to say, there are some changes that need to be done with the NHLPA with regards to who should be in charge and how players should go about asking for what they want, among other things. I'm sure Allan Walsh could give us a whole list of things that need to be changed with regards to the NHLPA.

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