The Professional Hockey Player's Association was founded in 1967 in Portland, Oregon, when members of the Portland Buckaroos (of the now defunct Western Hockey League) recognized that Canadians playing hockey in the United States who were starting families had to send their wives home to Canada to give birth to their babies as there was no health plan (Medicare) at the time in the United States to cover the medical expenses. A number of Portland Buckaroos players including Doug Messier and Arlo Goodwin hired Portland attorney Curt Leichner as their legal counsel to legally form a WHL Players Association to allow WHL players to take advantage of group pension and healthcare plans, gaining better benefits through strength in numbers.
Over the course of the 1967-68 season, players from the American Hockey League saw the benefit of forming a benevolent society of their own and approached their WHL counterparts with the vision of creating one Players Association which would represent all professional hockey players outside of the National Hockey League (NHL).
On May 20, 1968, WHL and AHL players voted to form the “Professional Hockey Players’ Association”.
Since then, the PHPA has expanded to include representation of players in the former Central Hockey League (CHL) from 1974-1984 and 2008-2014, the former International Hockey League (IHL) from 1985-2001 and the ECHL since the 1995-96 season.
The PHPA is now recognized as one of the oldest and largest Players' Associations in professional sports, and is the only Players' Association that represents minor league professional athletes in a major league sport. The PHPA continues to represent over 1,500 Players situated across 58 teams throughout the AHL and ECHL which are the premier player development leagues for the National Hockey League (NHL).
Headquartered in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the PHPA has a staff of 10 employees and retains various external assistance such as legal counsel, financial advisors, insurance professionals, information technology, and other requirements as needed. The daily management and leadership of the PHPA is the responsibility of Larry Landon, who took over as Executive Director from Leichner in 1993.
40 Years of Dedicated Service
The PHPA was featured in a 12-page spread in the October 16, 2007 edition of The Hockey News, the hockey industry’s oldest and most widely circulated publication. The section describes why the Association was formed in 1967, and how it has evolved to become the only minor league Players' Association within a major league sport. The article features interviews with past PHPA Members such as Doug Messier, Darcy Regier, Ted Nolan, Glenn Patrick, Brad Treliving, as well as David Andrews, President and CEO of the AHL, and Brian McKenna, ECHL Commissioner.
Click Here to view the full PDF version of the PHPA’s 40th Anniversary section.