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The CHLPA – Nearly Two Years Later

It was August 17, 2012 when TJHN broke the story of the formation of the Canadian Hockey League Players Association.

The media frenzy that ensued throughout the entire junior hockey world was one that likely will not be seen again for quite some time.  In many ways the CHLPA helped put The Junior Hockey News on the map when it came to players and parents coming to the site for information.

Along the CHLPA journey there was controversy, the CHL made it pretty clear they were not in favor of the proposed union.  Players on the other hand were privately in support of the idea, and some did act on that support publicly.  For the most part though, traction was not easily gained by the CHLPA.

Traction though is not always a necessary thing to have.  Fear of change, or a challenge to the status quo, can and often does encourage those who do not want change to initiate change on their own.

Some of the ideas proposed by the CHLPA to add to the player benefit package, were in many peoples opinion, long over due.  Some of the financial information that proposed change was based upon was previously unknown to many casual fans.  Eye opening information often creates thought provoking conversations.

The CHLPA certainly had its share of missteps along the way.  Vague information concerning the organizations structure, along with accusations of the organization having motives that may be personally beneficial plagued the early headlines.

Many questions were asked about “who” was in charge.  Many felt “who” could be one of three different people.  Investigators were hired, and a war of public opinion raged on for the better part of six months.

After some time though, change began to take place.  Players were given more, and little by little the CHLPA news cycle began to slow down.  Such is usually the case when change is made.

We see the same thing taking place at the NCAA level today based upon the threat of players unionizing.  Players are receiving more, and internally there is much talk about a lot of change, that talk of change would not have begun without the threat of unionization.  Why would people change unless they had to?

Yesterday, the CHLPA released a statement from its founder Glenn Gumbley.

The statement was simple, yet powerful.  The CHLPA, as it continues to fight to organize has now been transferred to Unifor.  Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union organization representing more than 300,000 members across Canada.

Unifor was officially formed on August 31, 2013, at a Founding Convention in Toronto, Ontario. It marked the coming together of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) – two of Canada’s largest and most influential labor unions.

This is no small organization, and their bargaining power is one that should not be underestimated by anyone, especially the CHL.

While it appears as though Glenn Gumbley is out of the picture now, and it is likely the best thing for the movement, no one should discount his actions or his effort in creating the movement.

Glenn was certainly controversial, and some of his Tweets were hilarious to read.  But in the end, his idea is continuing to survive.  Perhaps when we look back years from now, at the change it will likely bring for players, Glenn Gumbley will be seen in different light.  It takes innovative people to initiate change.

It takes smart people to realize when its time to step aside.  While many may not agree with certain tactics, or expressions of thought, Glenn Gumbley does deserve a pat on the back for the creation of conversation and knowing when to get out of the way and let the experts take over.

Will the CHLPA ever truly become all that it had once hopped to be?  Who knows.  Will the thoughts and ideas continue to initiate discussion and change that benefits the players?  Certainly.  If nothing else but positive change comes about, the CHLPA has accomplished its mission.

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher

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