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The National Hockey League Players’ Association and recently ousted executive director Paul Kelly have reached a tentative settlement.
According to a report in the New York Post, the union will pay its former executive director $1.5 million, plus $200,000 in attorney’s fees.
Kelly landed an excellent gig as head of College Hockey, Inc. while the NHLPA has since fired the ombudsman, the interim director, and fallen into complete disarray.
During a conference call of the NHLPA executive board, a vote was taken to decide whether to keep ombudsman Buzz Hargrove and advisory board member Ron Pink, two men instrumental in the firing of Paul Kelly. Unfortunately for the players, there were not enough members on the conference call to make the vote official. From Ken Campbell of the Hockey News:
According to several sources close to the situation, there were not enough members of the executive board on the call to fire ombudsman Buzz Hargrove and advisory board member Ron Pink, but the players who were on the call did conduct a straw poll. In order for there to be an official vote, there must be 25 voting members available and there were fewer than 20 on the call at the time.
If anything, the straw poll supports the notion the NHLPA is likely in for a significant housecleaning at some point in the near future. In the unofficial vote, players reportedly voted 17-1 to re-work interim executive director Ian Penny’s five-year contract and voted overwhelmingly to relieve Hargrove and Pink of their duties.
This whole situation with the NHLPA this summer has gone past insane and is borderline institutional. The quicker that the union can put this mess behind them, the better off they will be.
The NHLPA is holding another conference call later today to try to come to conclusion how to proceed after the firing of Paul Kelly. Kelly was fired abruptly in early September and many members of the association were left scratching their head.
Chris Chelios has been one of the more outspoken players and he has offered some suggestions for solution. His suggestions will be a large part of today’s conference call.
A week ago, veteran defenseman Chris Chelios urged his union brethren in an ad hoc meeting to consider an independent investigation of the events leading to Kelly’s Aug. 31 dismissal, which came shortly before 4 a.m. following a harried vote in a Chicago hotel room. Chelios also requested that the new five-year deal granted in June to the in-house general counsel, Ian Penny, be rescinded, for what Chelios and others believe to be violations of the union’s constitution.
It appears the NHLPA might decided to start fresh and remove everyone from power. It is being reported that advisor Ron Pink and Ombudsman Buzz Hargrove might resign as early as today.
The NHLPA held a 2 1/2 hour conference call to discuss the firing of Paul Kelly. There were no decisions made on the call but another call is scheduled for October 4. Darren Dreger of TSN.ca has more details…
A source said the call wasn’t contentious at all and the group talked about the procedure and events leading up to Paul Kelly’s firing and was asked to take the discussion back to their teammates for further analysis.
No NHLPA staff, advisory board members or even ombudsman Buzz Hargrove were allowed to participate in the 2 1/2 hour meeting.
Another conference call will be held on October 4, at which point the executive board will recommend how to handle Kelly’s firing.
The decision on October 4 will go a long way in deciding how quickly we can put this whole fiasco behind us. If the NHLPA decides they won’t honor Kelly’s contract, he is expected to quickly challenge that decision with legal action.
The NHLPA union representatives are starting to come under fire as they have a start of the season conference call. Many of the 750 players in the NHLPA are starting to come to realization that former NHLPA head Paul Kelly was unfairly dismissed.
According to Kevin Paul Dumont of the Boston Globe:
It’s possible, according to player sources, that one or more NHLPA members will insist on an immediate, thorough, and independent investigation of not only the process that led to Kelly’s dismissal but also of those who perpetrated it. Clearly, some players are finally waking up to smell the reality that, as one veteran told me last week, "Paul got sewered.’’
This whole situation with the NHLPA has left a black eye on the union and many of the player representatives. An independent investigation, if done correctly, could reestablish some credibility to the union and might possiblyeliminate many of the issues that have plagued the union before the lockout.
According to a report by TSN, the NHLPA's executive board reached out to MLBPA head Donald Fehr to seek his counsel on how the organization should go about choosing and installing its new leader. Fehr declined to help until his term at the MLBPA ends.
[T]he PA's executive board, advisory board and interim executive director, Ian Penny wanted Fehr's advice on how the group should proceed in the search for Kelly's replacement.
Fehr didn't rule out the possibility of offering his views on the NHLPA in the future, but said he wouldn't do so until he has officially vacated his position with the MLBPA.
At this point in the NHLPA's self-destruction, getting outside help is definitely the best way to go.
Toronto Star reporter Damien Cox is reporting today that defenseman Andrew Ference was the main player behind the firing of Paul Kelly.
At the top of the union's unwieldy, multi-headed new power structure sits the 30-player executive council, of which the executive director – Kelly until last week – acts as chairman. But Ference was identified by multiple sources as the loudest voice in the room in Chicago, the player who pushed hardest for a vote on Kelly's dismissal in the early hours of the morning against the wishes of veteran players like Chris Chelios. By a 22-5 vote, Kelly was terminated.
Cox also mentions that the main reason that the players fired Kelly, the acquisition of private meeting minutes, was brought to the attention of the players by Kelly himself. Kelly told the players that he saw the minutes after he found out that general counsel Ian Kelly received a five year contract during that meeting, a meeting that Kelly should have been apart of.
It's difficult to find any players that will talk about what led to the firing of Paul Kelly. Edmonton Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff won't talk about the decision but he still hap plenty to say.
"Brendan Shanahan wasn't in there," said Horcoff. "For him to make that statement publicly and be critical of us, he wasn't in that office, he doesn't know the information that was passed around.
"That's the most frustrating thing; we want to come out and explain to the players first and foremost before anyone made comments to the media about what happened and why the decision was made."
Several players have been critical of the decision to fire Kelly, but we haven't heard any of the reasons the other players thought this was necessary. If the players continue to be quiet regarding their reasons for firing Kelly this will be a PR nightmare for them.
"We knew it was going to be a PR issue and it wouldn't look very good, but we have 740 members and their well-being is the most important thing," Horcoff said yesterday.
"We met for 16 hours over two days and there was a lot discussed. I can't go too much into it, but it wasn't a hasty decision. Being a person who put Paul in there and being a supporter of Paul, it was going to take a lot to get me swayed."
This brings up an interesting question. Is 16 hours enough time to determine the future of so many people? Paul Kelly was fired and publicly criticized which undoubtedly will affect his reputation and 30 players reps made a decision that will affect 740 players that play in the NHL.
Jeremy Roenick, recently retired and yet always one to speak his mind, has publicly criticized the NHLPA for their actions in the recent firing of Paul Kelly and the subsequent resignations of several high ranking officials.
Appearing on AM 640 in Toronto, Roenick was extremely critical of the back-handed way the executive board handled the firing, and suggests there may be more behind the firing than first meets the eye.
"I feel bad for Paul. I think that the way that they treated him was not right, and not fair," said Roenick. "They had him sitting out drinking coffee until four in the morning while they pow-wowed. I think the disrespect to Paul was very evident.
"There is sort of an underlying power in the NHLPA that wants to take over," continued Roenick. "I don't think Paul Kelly was doing a bad job, he was obviously very well qualified. Is the PA nervous about whether he can handle maybe a future lockout or a future strike, if that's the case? This has been very premature."
This is quickly becoming a public relations disaster for both the player's association and the NHL itself. With the league still rebounding from a season long cancellation just five years ago, there is now widespread speculation that the NHLPA could be setting itself up for another faceoff between players and the league that would result in yet another lockout.
With several teams struggling financially and the NHL working to preserve one of its of flailing franchises, it's doubtful the league could survive another lockout. With tensions within the NHLPA itself reaching an all-time high, and accusations of conspiracy and lies being spread, the NHL is facing a very uncertain future.
When NHLPA decided to fire its executive director, Paul Kelly, one would assume that it was an idea at least bounced-off the league's most famous player, Sidney Crosby. After all, he was voted by Hockey News as "the most powerful person in hockey." Surely he'd have some sort of opinion to offer on the situation, so it would be best to, I dunno, maybe conference him in on a phone call. But, as Sporting News reports today, Crosby was completely left in the dark.
"I woke up the next day and saw the news like the rest," Crosby told SportingNews.com.
Ultimately, this is why the executive board is in place, to make decisions like this, and clearly things are a bit messy within the NHLPA, but still, you would think that they would at least consult with Crosby, the game's most marketable, powerful, and popular player before ousting the head of the union.
Former NHLPA Director Paul Kelly publicly denied the allegations that he was involved in spying on the members of the players association. Initially, Kelly siad he would not speak publicly regarding his firing until the dust had settled but TSN.ca has posted some details.
Kelly had this to say...
"I cannot stand by and allow this false and misleading attack on my character and reputation," Kelly said in a statement released Thursday. "I spent almost 10 years as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting numerous cases pertaining to fraud and dishonesty, including one involving a former NHLPA executive director. My personal ethics and reputation are beyond reproach.
This story is not over an bears watching over the next couple of days and weeks. As more people come forward the details become a little more clear.
The carnage continues at the NHLPA, as Glenn Healy, Director of Player Affairs for the NHLPA resigned from his post.
Wrote Healy in his resignation letter, as obtained by TSN:
I would never and have not misled or told any untruths to any player. I cannot sit back and continue to perform my duties when my Players' Association co-workers unjustifiably impugn my credibility in front of the players I represent and fire shots against Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, two of the greatest players in the game, who have benefited every player in this Players' Association."
It's starting to look more and more like a total cleaning of house at the NHLPA, which is probably the only way to go after so much turmoil already.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that Paul Kelly may have been fired for allegedly spying on a closed door meeting:
One of the prime reasons Paul Kelly was fired as NHLPA executive director is that he was allegedly caught reading a transcript from a confidential meeting between the union’s advisory board and 30-member player executive last June.
The leaked story can not be confirmed because the players have been asked not comment on the situation until after Kelly receives his severance package. However, no one is going out of their way to deny the allegations.
When an executive board member was contacted yesterday to confirm the private session was part of the reason for Kelly’s dismissal, the phone line went silent. He then said, "The players have agreed not to say anything." The player was given a chance to refute the story and did not deny the allegations.
The meeting in question took place in Las Vegas two months ago during the group's annual summer meetings. The players met to discuss, among other things, Kelly's leadership and a five-year contract extension for then-General Counsel and current Interim Executive Director, Ian Penny. The allegations suggest that Kelly, who was reportedly at odds with Penny, "peeked" at the written transcript after news that Penny had received the extension.
This would not be the first instance of an NHLPA head spying on the players. Kelly's predecessor, Ted Saskin, was let go after reports surfaced that he was monitoring the players' e-mail accounts.
ESPN says that Paul Kelly is distraught after being removed as the head of the NHLPA:
"I'd say that unless someone has gone through this type of experience, it's difficult for people to fathom the range of emotions, the stress that you feel," Kelly said Wednesday during an interview with ESPN.com.
"It's been an excruciating past three days. I can't say that I've fully come to grips with all of my emotions. I'm still feeling a tremendous degree of sadness and disappointment and still an element of shock.
The article also adds that Kelly's "transgressions" included being too media friendly as well as not developing relationships with players.
Hours after ousting Executive Director Paul Kelley, the NHLPA named Ian Kelley as their interim head.
From Canadian news outlet TSN:
Ian Penny has been unanimously named as Interim Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players' Association.
He had previously held the role of General Counsel for the union.
Sources tell TSN Penny is not interested in the position on a fulltime basis and only took the title in order to give the NHLPA a point person during the coming days.
With the hiring of Penny, the NHLPA hopes to regain stability as they search for a new permanent director to lead the group in the upcoming 2011 contract negotiations with the NHL. NHLPA Ombudsan Buzz Hargrove believes the job to be up for grabs.
I talked to almost all the players before they left at noon today and no one had a suggestion. They really are saying that we need to do a search and we have to reach out outside of the organization, unless somebody surfaces that we haven't yet identified.
The surprise firing of Kelley was yet another setback for the players association as they try to regain credibility with the fans and could be just the beginning of more hard times to follow. As From the Rink reported,
The NHLPA's chances of finding a better candidate to lead them into 2011's labour war in the near future are realistically slim to none. And you better believe the owners are licking their lips right now at that thought.
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