SBD/Issue 5/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Chris Chelios Reportedly Leading Push To Reinstate Paul Kelly

Could Kelly Return As NHLPA Exec Dir?
Free agent D and NHLPA Exec Board member Chris Chelios is "planning to talk with other players about the possibility of bringing back Paul Kelly" as Exec Dir of the union, according to a report by French-language Montreal radio station CKAC-AM. Chelios reportedly claims that he was "misinformed when he was told" at last month's NHLPA meeting in Chicago that Kelly was "in a conflict of interest" with Penguins co-Owner Mario Lemieux and Coyotes Managing Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky. CKAC reported that the "perceived conflict led to Kelly's downfall" (CANWEST NEWS SERVICE, 9/17). NATIONAL POST's Bruce Arthur writes "in all likelihood, it's far too late" to bring back Kelly. His ouster was "not only a blot of the union's already mottled reputation, but also a blow against the good interest of the game." Reinstating Kelly "would be excellent for hockey," and ideally, the league's top players "who were not consulted on the issue ... would be adamant about finding out what happened." However, that appears to be a "dream," because if "history is any guide, the vast majority of NHL players don't care about this stuff, as long as there are paycheques coming in and skates to be laced" (NATIONAL POST, 9/18).

I WANT THE TRUTH! The GLOBE & MAIL's Allan Maki reports CAA Sports Hockey co-Heads J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson are "asking their clients to find out what led to Paul Kelly's firing." Barry and Brisson in a statement Thursday noted they have had talked to their clients -- which include Penguins Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane -- as well as other NHLers and said that "some of the things we have learned about the process are very troubling to us." Chelios also said that his former Red Wings teammates "wanted to know why such an important decision was made without their knowledge or consent." Chelios: "They felt they should have been consulted first. They felt I should have gotten the information, and brought it back to them then I could have taken their consensus back to the executive board. I couldn't agree more" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/18). Chelios said that the next NHLPA Exec Board meeting on September 28 "will be important since the 30 player reps will have all garnered feedback from their teammates throughout training camp." Chelios: "That's really the first chance for us to get together and talk about the feedback they got." He added, "We want transparency. The players in Detroit were surprised and disappointed. ... They can't believe they didn't have a say in this" (ESPN.com, 9/17).

UNION RAILROAD: In Vancouver, Ed Willes writes three weeks following Kelly's removal, the situation at the NHLPA "remains confusing and troubling for hockey fans." If the proceedings are "simply the result of a dysfunctional and chronically inept PA, most fans could care less." But with CBA negotiations with the NHL looming, if this is the "prelude to another long and tortured negotiation followed by another work stoppage, then anyone who cares about the game should be alarmed" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/18).

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