SBD/Issue 95/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHLPA Ombudsman Lindros Resigns, Cites Difficulties With Kelly

Lindros Had Served As NHLPA
Ombudsman Since November '07
NHLPA Ombudsman Eric Lindros resigned yesterday, citing in a letter to members of the executive board "a fundamental problem" between himself and Exec Dir Paul Kelly over matters including Lindros' role in fielding complaints about the union's operation. "It should be noted that this is not the result of conflict of personalities but a fundamental problem between the Current Executive Director and the office of the Ombudsman and the effort to create transparency," Lindros wrote in a letter to the 30 executive board members obtained by SportsBusiness Journal. In the three-page letter, Lindros raised the question of whether employees who complained about the union suffered retaliation. Although staff members who made complaints were doing so under agreements of confidentiality, Lindros wrote it was evident who made the complaints because the NHLPA HQs in Toronto is a small office. "The end result, however, should not be one whereby, some of those who stepped forward on the players' behalf, be told in or following their annual staff reviews that they are somehow not loyal to the Office of the Executive Director by the Executive Director," he wrote. Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment. Lindros, who played in the NHL from ’91-’07, became the union’s first Ombudsman in November ‘07, a month after Kelly was introduced as Exec Dir (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

NOT A SURPRISE: In Toronto, Damien Cox notes the fact that Lindros and Kelly, "once friends and mutual admirers, had ceased to even speak cordially to one another was an open NHLPA secret." Kelly "made little effort to hide his dislike for the role Lindros was playing, essentially arguing that [he] was attempting to step far outside the boundaries of his position." It therefore was "hardly a shock when Lindros departed yesterday, although nobody's saying whether this was a resignation or a firing." Lindros "had become increasingly isolated within the union and won't be missed." However, while there is "no whiff of impropriety whatsoever about Kelly in this or any other union matter, the optics are always poor for any organization when a person in the position of being a watchdog becomes an enemy of the boss, and then walks the plank" (TORONTO STAR, 2/4).

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