Buzz Hargrove resigns as interim ombudsman of NHL Players’ Association

TORONTO – The purging of the NHL Players’ Association continues.

Buzz Hargrove stepped down as the union’s interim ombudsman on Sunday, telling the NHLPA’s executive board and office staff that he no longer felt able to perform his duties.

“I have come to the conclusion that I cannot under the current situation be effective in the role of the ombudsman or assist the leadership in building unity and solidarity that is necessary to move the NHLPA into the future,” Hargrove said in a statement.

The former head of the Canadian Auto Workers spent 13 months at the NHLPA – working first on the union’s advisory board before replacing Eric Lindros as interim ombudsman in February.

The NHLPA confirmed his resignation and declined further comment.

Hargrove’s departure is the lastest development in a turbulent period that began when NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly was fired during an overnight meeting in August. That set off a wave of departures which eventually included Kelly’s interim replacement Ian Penny and the entire eight-member advisory board.

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Hargrove acknowledged having some fractured relationships during his time with the NHLPA, but indicated he always acted with the union’s best interest at heart.

“In spite of some disagreements on issues with some of the executive board as well as disagreements with some advisory board members and staff, I have worked to try and strengthen the NHLPA,” said Hargrove.

He also indicated that he would co-operate if the executive board decides to review his conduct and defended the need for the NHLPA to continue having an ombudsman – a position which was created in 2007 as part of a rewritten constitution.

Hargrove’s resignation came just hours before the four-man review committee of Chris Chelios, Rob Blake, Mark Recchi and Nick Lidstrom was to conduct a conference call with player reps to discuss plans for the union to start moving forward and rebuilding itself.