A resounding majority of player reps voted last night by conference call to install a investigative panel of four veteran NHLers - Nicklas Lidstrom, Rob Blake, Mark Recchi and Chris Chelios - to look into the events of the past two months that have made the union the laughingstock of the hockey industry.
Included in those events was the early morning putsch in Chicago in late August that saw executive director Paul Kelly fired, and quickly resulted in the departure of senior executives like Glenn Healy and Pat Flatley.
However, while between 17 and 19 of the 22 teams represented on the last night's call voted in favour of the new committee, by the union's constitution the resolution did not pass because 25 teams were not involved and therefore there was no official quorum.
"It's really discouraging," said one player. "Guys have to understand this is important." Those in favour of the new committee have several days to try and get 20 votes in favour of the new committee, at which point it would be established. If more teams can't be persuaded to either participate or vote in favour of the new committee, it will die.
Penny, who took over as interim executive director after successfully leading the coup that resulted in Kelly's ouster, was asked to remove himself from last night's call and, after some discussion, he reluctantly did so. The players also declined to hear from baseball union boss Don Fehr, preferring instead to have a players only call.
Penny has made his opposition to this new committee known, and now has several days to try and sway the votes of various player reps. Still, this was the latest in a series of internal votes that have gone heavily against him, and it appears the five-year contract he received in June will also be reviewed.
Penny has declined requests for interviews from the Star.
Hargrove, the union's ombudsman and unofficial spokesman since Penny took over, appears on the verge of being dismissed, but he wasn't fired last night.
After allowing various more junior union members like Andrew Ference and Matt Stajan of the Maple Leafs to take influential roles in the firing of Kelly, it's noteworthy that the association seems to now be inclined to put its faith in the hands of more senior players like Chelios, Blake, Lidstrom and Recchi. Lidstrom's involvement is pivotal and there have been few influential European players involved in the union's affairs in recent months.
Ference was the loudest player voice in the room when Kelly was fired at 4 a.m. that infamous day in Chicago, but he has already announced he is stepping down as Boston's player rep. Stajan has consistently backed Penny and said the union was right to fire Kelly.
Chelios, meanwhile, was set to lose his position as Detroit's player rep on Oct. 31st because he is currently not on the Red Wings roster. This will keep him involved, and he was one of the most dogged opponents of former executive director Ted Saskin before Saskin was fired for spying on players emails.
That's not good news for Penny either.