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CHLPA Falling Apart

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CHLPA Falling Apart? November 2, 2012 8:37 AM

Since TJHN was the first to break the story on the formation of the CHLPA, we may as well be the first to break the story on its potential to he history in short order.

Georges Laraque, is leaving. In short order Laraque qill be stepping down as the Union figurehead. Laraque’s solution? As TJHN proposed months ago, he is looking to pass this "union" on to another already organized labor union.

“We need to pass it over to a real union,” Laraque said from Cape Breton, N.S., where he is to attend a meeting with players on Friday. “We’ve had many unions that want to take it over, and I’ve decided we’ll pass on all the progress we’ve made. It has to be a real professional that does this.”

Why now? Why after all the work would he choose to leave now? The answer is Derek Clarke.

Stories emerged of a mystery man approaching teenage players in several markets, handing out CHLPA literature and calling himself Derek Clarke.

Derek Clarke however is a mystery man. Who, exactly, is Derek Clarke?

Several emerged on Wednesday that Derek Clarke could actually be Randy Gumbley, a former owner of the Streetsville Derbys, an Ontario junior team, who was convicted in 2009 of defrauding the families of several junior-aged players to the tune of $90,000. Last year, Gumbley received a suspended sentence and 18 months probation for selling players and their parents on a European tournament that was never held.

CHL president and OHL commissioner admitted to Yahoo! Canada that his league hired a private investigator to find out Clarke’s background.

"We started to get concerned, based on the information coming to us," Branch said in his interview with Yahoo!. "So we did this for the safety and security of our players.

"We felt it was important to find out who Derek Clarke is and there were repeated requests to find out who he was and we never had any contact. Our private investigator never did find out who Derek Clarke is."

Is Gumbley still on probation? Is a condition of that probation that he stays out of hockey? Can that suspended sentence now be at risk?

Thursday, a different man named Derek Clarke stepped forward to show his identification documents and meet with TSN.

What he didn’t provide was any further information as to his background or what his specific role is in the union. Mr. Clarke is listed as Quebec channel manager on the corporate website for JFC Solutions, a telecommunications hardware wholesaler.

“Those allegations are entirely false,” says Michael Mazzuca, of Gibson & Barnes LLP, the association’s legal representative in Ontario. “Clarke is certainly not Gumbley.”

Mazzuca added that Clarke would be on TSN on Thursday to prove it. The allegations are part of “a smokescreen” to detract from the membership vote on Friday, Mazzuca says.

TSN’s David Naylor reported that he had interviewed Clarke on the telephone three times and the voice he heard the third time was different than the first two occasions. Naylor also talked to the cloak-and-dagger Clarke in Montreal on Thursday as Mazzuca said he would, but he refused to be interviewed on camera.

More confusing? Yes, it gets better.

Clarke’s sudden appearance also didn’t explain why the players, and Laraque, identified photos of Mr. Gumbley as Mr. Clarke in a TV interview.

Laraque later recanted on those statements and told Toronto The Globe and Mail “I’ve never even talked to that Randy guy. I’ve never talked to him, I’ve never seen him, he has nothing to do with us.”

It only gets better when Laraque pointed out that the CHLPA does do business with Mr. Gumbley’s brother Glenn. Some media outlets are saying Glenn Gumbley bears a physical resemblance to not only Randy Gumbley, but also to the new Derek Clarke! You really cant make this stuff up folks! Make the decisions for yourself.

At left is Derek Clarke CHLPA spokesman. Center is Randy Gumbley, and Right is Glenn Gumbley. So any of these three look that much alike that they could be confused in a lineup? I dont think so.

Glenn Gumbley has helped the association and arranged some of the group’s legal staff, according to Laraque.

The Legal Team?

Two of the law firms providing pro bono services, Victory Square Poudrier Bradet, have severed their relationship with the union. Denis Bradet, a Quebec City lawyer who is listed on the CHLPA’s advisory board is done with the group.

All of this comes on the heals of the head of Canada’s first junior hockey team to join a union welcoming the help in making his players’ lives better.

“This organization understands the decision of those kids and respects their decision,” says Ronald Thibault, governor of the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Sufficient numbers of his players have signed membership cards to join a group that aims to unionize junior hockey players across the country.

Meanwhile the fight goes on in Cape Breton, where Screaming Eagles players are expected to vote on Friday about whether to join the union or not, the team issued the following statement concerning the CHLPA;

“We do not believe that any third party can provide programs and support better than what the Screaming Eagles and other league teams currently voluntarily provide to our players,” the statement says. “In the coming days, we will continue to speak with our players and their families and ask that before they agree to anything that they do their research into the CHLPA and who is behind it.”

TJHN has now learned that Derek Clarke has also resigned from the CHLPA.

Resignation received just in time as Yahoo Sports reported that a consultant working with the CHLPA had been in contact with a union representative named Glen Clarke.

"The phone number he provided to Yahoo! Sports for Glen Clarke, is the same Montreal-area phone number Derek Clarke has been giving out as his contact to members of the media," the website reported.

"The consultant said he had no contact with Derek Clarke and had never met either man in person."

TVA in Montreal turned up union recruiting documents, a powerpoint, that had Randy Gumbley’s name on it.

Again, you just cant make these story lines up.

Since the very beginning TJHN has questioned who was behind the CHLPA. What was the motivation for its formation? Where would the mssive amounts of money be going if it was successful in organizing? This was all too suspicious for us. Organizations like this simply do not stay under wraps for more than a year. Organizations amoung players simply would have been talked about.

Were the ideals behind the CHLPA those most would champion? Certainly. Giving players more is never a bad idea.

But can you actually believe the CHLPA is a real professional organization when there is such mass confusion over who the spokesperson for the union may or may not be?

CHL president David Branchmust be laughing his ass off at all of this! Put the MP3 of "I told you so" on a loop David, dont even answer the phone calls, just play the tape.

As for what organized existing union would be willing to pick this mess up… one knows and phone calls to Derek Clarke seeking comment were not returned.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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