The man who helped give NHL commissioner Gary Bettman his worst case of recurring indigestion is back in the mix.
Richard Rodier, best known for spearheading Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie's quests to land ownership of an NHL franchise and move it to Southern Ontario, has been hired as a lawyer and economic consultant with the NHL Players' Association.
Rodier was named to his new post Monday, by NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. According to sources, Rodier and Balsillie have "amicably" parted company and Rodier's work with the players will have more to do with business factors than legal issues.
As Balsillie's voice and human shield, Rodier spoke his mind, questioned the NHL's business practices, challenged Bettman on every front and drew the title "rogue lawyer" from one unhappy team owner (Craig Leipold). In the end, the NHL went out of its way to find other owners in Pittsburgh, Nashville and Phoenix and appears to be in no hurry to welcome Balsillie and his money into their group.
Rodier was unavailable for comment Monday, but sources said he expressed his interest last summer in working with the NHLPA should Fehr take over. Once Fehr - who led the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1986 to 2009 - decided he wanted to lead the hockey players into their next collective bargaining session, Rodier was offered a job and accepted.
Rodier's background includes a degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The NHLPA announced three other appointments: Robert DeGregory and Maria Dennis have signed on as associate counsels, with Colin A. Campbell (no, not the NHL vice-president of hockey operations) named director of corporate sponsorships.
DeGregory is a graduate of McMaster University and Harvard Law School and was an attorney for the United Steelworkers international union. Dennis, a Yale and Georgetown University Law Center grad, played on the U.S. women's national team and has worked with USA Hockey and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
DeGregory and Dennis will be handling collective bargaining for the NHLPA.