By Andrew McGilligan
You have no one to blame but yourselves.
If the people running the proposed Canadian Hockey League Players Association (CHLPA) want to know what went wrong in their attempt to unionize junior hockey players, they need to look no further than the mirror.
Missteps would be the polite way of putting it. A series of disasters, each more easily avoidable than the last is probably closer in approximation. The errors in judgement on the part of the CHLPA were such that Canadian Hockey League (CHL) commissioner David Branch probably didn’t need to get involved in squashing the proposed union (he did anyways).
All of this has detracted from the union’s goal of improving the education packages players receive as compensation for their time playing in one of the three leagues that compose the CHL.
So with its name sullied and its potential to get players unionized all but gone, what does the CHLPA do? It tries to highjack the Stanley Cup and award it to a CHL team based on an illogical format.
It’s unclear who advises the CHLPA in terms of its moves (the likely guess, given the bizarre moves, would be no one), but they should be relieved of their duties. If the CHLPA is serious about helping players and improving education packages, here are a few suggestions.
- Stay on topic: No more getting sidetracked with trying to award the Stanley Cup or any other trophy. The goal of the CHLPA is to improve education packages, so stick with that message. Do not get sidetracked with other foolishness such as feuds with people on twitter.
- Don’t just say it, show it: The CHLPA has stated it doesn’t believe the current rules surrounding education packages are fair. They cite problems such as the 12-18 month limit in accessing the education funds and the limiting of institutions in which the players can use the money. This is all well and good, but providing actual examples of how the current policies have failed players would dramatically strengthen the argument. Brett Morrison had some trouble with the QMJHL education packages which highlight concerns regarding trades of players and education requirements while playing in the league. This can all be found with a simple Google search. Morrison is one example, track down some more and you’ll have a strong case to present to current players and the public.
- Transparency: Obviously there have been some issues with who is behind the union, etc. Branch has effectively used the CHLPA’s secrecy to paint it as a shadowy organization and it worked. Your website needs to list everyone involved, their roles and how to contact them directly. The excuse of people working for the cause part-time is not good enough. By doing this, the CHL can no longer claim it doesn’t want to sit down for a meeting because it doesn’t know who the CHLPA is. Take away the stumbling block and it will either force the CHL to meet with you or explain why they don’t want to discuss issues relevant to improving a player’s experience.
This is just a short list, but the CHLPA has to make some drastic changes. If you want to be taken seriously, then act professionally, otherwise all the work done in pursuit of what appears to be a noble cause is wasted.