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CHLPA to 'pass the baton'

Sunaya Sapurji
Yahoo Sports

Despite being on life support, the proposed union for junior hockey players announced they will continue.

On Friday, now identifying himself as CHLPA founder, Glenn Gumbley took to Twitter to hold a question-and-answer session. During the exchange he said the proposed union was not dead, saying: “We intend to pass the baton over to an established enterprise so that they can move forward successfully.”

At this point, however, it’s unclear how many people are left to make that happen.

Earlier in the day two more law firms who had been working with the group rescinded their services. In addition, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League said they were notified by the Nova Scotia Labor Board that a bid to have the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles take part in a certification bid was nixed when the union withdrew its application.

When the proposed union first came to light in August, questions surrounded their group – most notably: Who was behind it? Instead of transparency, the CHLPA chose to hide under a veil of secrecy. Gumbley said the reason for staying hidden was because his name had become “toxic” after his brother, Randy Gumbley, had been convicted of defrauding young junior hockey players in 2009. Georges Laraque, the CHLPA’s then-executive director, told Yahoo! Sports that Randy Gumbley had never worked for the proposed union.

“Glenn works for the CHLPA and that’s Randy’s brother,” said Laraque on Thursday afternoon. “Randy has nothing to do with the CHLPA. Glenn was there (at the CHLPA) before I was there. I only got there this past August. Glenn has no criminal record… and he helps out with the CHLPA.”

On Thursday evening Laraque stepped down from his position with the CHLPA.

There had been questions raised about Randy Gumbley’s involvement with the proposed union with TVA Sports reporting they had a PowerPoint presentation from the CHLPA that had his name on it. When asked to explain that document Glenn Gumbley said, “There were several occasions [sic] when I used computers other than my own.”

There had been questions involving Derek Clarke, a proposed union spokesperson who has now also quit. Multiple media reports alleged that Derek Clarke was possibly two different people sharing the same name. Yahoo! Sports had also spoken to a CHLPA consultant who said he had been dealing with a Glen Clarke at the union who had been using the same phone number and generic union email as Derek Clarke. When asked if there was a Glen Clarke working for the CHLPA, Laraque said there was a mistake because the only “Glen” working for them was Glenn Gumbley.

In a conversation on Twitter, when asked specifically whether he had ever used a pseudonym, Gumbley responded: “I have never been a pseudonym.”

When asked again: Just to be clear, you have never used a name other than Glenn Gumbley in your dealings with people?

He responded with three consecutive tweets stating:

“There were many people fielding phone calls for the organization with only 2 spokepersons. [sic]”

“The volunteers did not want to have their names public in fear of loosned [sic] bolts etc. Unfortunately Derek became the smear campaign”

“Hundreds of media emails which was [sic] fielded by any one of the union reps were replied to on behalf of our only spokesperson, Derek”

To be sure, the idea of players jumping aboard the CHLPA bandwagon to certify with this particular group is slim to none.

“I don’t know how much support they had before this,” said veteran Saginaw Spirit defenceman Brandon Archibald on Friday. “All this new information has come out and now that it’s out, players who thought about signing or haven’t signed yet – I don’t think they’re going to do it now.”

Archibald said he had contacted the CHLPA via email for more information about the proposed union, but never got a response back.

“When it first came out in August it sounded like a good idea,” said the overager. “But then the way they came out – no one really knew about it – it was a little shady … I needed more information like who was actually running it and that kind of thing before you could sign in a union.

“There are guys on our team that know nothing about it. There are guys in the league (OHL) that know nothing about it.”

He said the CHLPA’s idea of improving the education packages for players was a good idea, though he isn’t sure about the rest of the group’s platform.

“I don’t really think there’s a need to change much else,” said the native of Port Huron, Mich. “There’s going to be some players who complain about the money, but that’s not really why you go to the CHL anyways – it’s to get to the next level. I don’t think there’s much other than the education.”

He said that he’d keep an open mind if another, more professional, group emerged to help players – whether that was through a certified union or setting up a third-party advocacy group.

“If it was a group of players who played in the league or respectable individuals that came forward and it was a little more professional I think it would have been a lot better for the players,” said Archibald.

“This just got worse and worse as it went on.”