Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kelly fiasco continues to control NHLPA agenda

It's been a few weeks now since the midnight cabal of the NHLPA held the Star Chamber meeting that dismissed their executive director, but if they thought that time would diminish the controversy they were apparently sadly mistaken.

Buzz Hargrove continued to stir the embers today with a radio interview with Toronto radio station AM640, during the course of his conversation, Hargrove outlined how he believes the Players Association was justified in removing Kelly from his job.

This weekend the debate took on a whole new direction with the revelation that it was an opinion from former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry that helped to shape the overnight dismissal session that saw Kelly removed from his position less than two years on the job.

That topic made for a lively discussion on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, with only Ron MacLean apparently finding no problem with McMurtry's contribution to the coup, that of course despite his close relationship with Alan Eagleson, the disgraced former head of the NHLPA and the subject of Mr. Kelly's interest in his previous life as a prosecutor in Boston.


The fact that the NHLPA's decision to remove their Executive Director was based on McMurtry's discussion points has raised more than a few eyebrows, with many wondering if his opinion was as unbiased as one would hope for, considering his close ties to the pariah of the players association Eagleson.

Those developments of Saturday perhaps helped to frame the discussion for the NHLPA reps on Sunday who met in telephone conclave, to try and come to some kind of consensus on how to proceed next and in what direction.

Judging by some of the media reports though, that process still is apparently a work in progress with only a recitation of some very confusing items from the Sunday discussions to work with.

What does seem clear however is that Paul Kelly will be getting a negotiated settlement as his parting gift from the NHLPA, which instead of having to deal with more legal problems will somehow try to come to an arrangement on the remainder of Mr. Kelly's contract, Kelly has one year remaining paying him $1.5 million (all currency U.S.) and a $400,000 bonus. There will also be the matter of a two-year option to sort out.

Even more intriguing however is the fate of the latest to ascend to the PA throne, with reports that the player reps voted on the fates of Ian Penny, Buzz Hargrove and Ron Pink, but owing to a lack of a quorum, those votes were now considered more of a straw poll than a final decision. Though one is left with the impression that a few more heads will be rolling out of the NHLPA offices in short order.

All in all, the events of the last three days continue to leave the NHLPA with far more questions about the way its affairs are being handled, a situation which leaves the Players association once again under suspicion and tempting the fates of irrelevance with every passing day.

What clearly is needed is a General Meeting of all the player reps of the teams, the players of each team and their agents, there is a serious need to resolve this mess before it becomes any more embarrassing. One shudders at what the next revelation may be as an already unseemly mess gets uglier and uglier with each updated report.

Somewhere along the way, those that are supposed to be in charge seem to have forgotten that the mission isn't to build little Kingdoms inside the Association, but to best represent the players interests with the NHL owners, so far they've neglected the latter far too much.

CBC Sports-- Ference candid about shedding role as player rep
Canadian Press-- Don Cherry rips NHLPA over firing of former union boss Paul Kelly
National Post-- Cherry dead on when it comes to NHLPA mess
National Post-- NHLPA members discuss Kelly firing in conference call

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