An investigation into the mysterious CHLPA official known as Derek Clarke has led to the claim that he is in fact Randy Gumbley, a former Toronto area junior hockey team owner who was convicted of fraud in 2009.
The story of the CHLPA has taken some rather bizarre turns since the association first came to the hockey world's attention this summer.
The association, which has been trying to obtain official union status in Alberta to represent major junior hockey players on teams there, has been making a lot of noise since its inception without a lot of knowledge of its exact support amongst the players it claims to represent. Former NHL player and current Canadian political activist Georges Laraque was named president of the organization, and remains the only noticeable public figure involved in the organization, but several media outlets have been in contact with other officials, including Derek Clarke, by phone and email.
The Canadian Hockey League and its president, David Branch, have similarly claimed to be in the dark about who is behind the CHLPA, and the league has hired a private investigator to determine the identity of Clarke.
Laraque is the only official to go on record to claim he has met Derek Clarke, and when presented with a picture of Randy Gumbley on a report for TVA Sports, Laraque positively identified the man as Clarke. You can see the video here (in French).
According to the Toronto Sun, Randy Gumbley was convicted of defrauding a minor hockey player in 2009 of $5,000 after pleading guilty to "two or three" of fifteen charges brought forth against him by current Peel Regional Police Constable Peter McLaughlin. Attempted contact made to both Gumbley and Clarke has not been returned, although Laraque has since backpedalled from his positive identification and claims that Clarke will be appearing on TSN Thursday morning. It is unsure if it will be on TSN Radio or on the cable network.
Whatever the case, it is yet another bizarre tale in the CHLPA's young existence. It is hard to find an article about the CHLPA that doesn't have the word "fledgling" prominently featured, as the association struggles to get off the ground. Recently, the CHLPA sent a letter to the CHL that it was threatening to sue the league's 60 member teams for "blatant disregard for the bare minimum working standards that have been set for employees." This is despite not officially being recognized as the union and representative of the CHL's players for any of the teams.