SBD/Issue 29/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHLPA Forms Committee To Investigate Firing Of Paul Kelly

Kelly's Firing Will Be Investigated
Following Player Reps' 25-5 Vote
Less than two months after voting 22-5 to fire NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly, player reps voted 25-5 to form a committee of players to investigate the firing, as well as other union matters, according to multiple sources. The committee, made up of Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom, Bruins RW Mark Recchi, Sharks D Rob Blake and AHL Chicago Wolves D Chris Chelios, is expected to hire an outside attorney to conduct the probe. It had been expected that the NHLPA would issue a statement regarding the vote, but the Toronto-based union yesterday would only say, "The NHLPA will not be commenting on this internal matter at this time." The 25-5 vote came within the 72-hour period allowed by the NHLPA constitution. On a Sunday night conference call, player reps voted 19-3 in favor of authorizing the probe, but the voted needed 20 yes votes to pass and 25 votes to meet the quorum to make it official. Player reps were criticized in the press for not participating in an important union vote, but sources said some reps were intentionally abstaining. However, all 30 team player reps did vote by the deadline yesterday. This is just the latest internal investigation of the NHLPA. At an NHLPA players meeting in June, four players were hired to investigate office operations and their report was heard before reps fired Kelly on August 31. The NHLPA in '07 hired Toronto attorney Chris Paliare to investigate former NHLPA Exec Dir Ted Saskin’s surveillance of player and employee emails. Also that year, the NHLPA hired Toronto litigator Sheila Block to investigate former NHLPA Exec Dir Bob Goodenow’s firing, Saskin’s hiring and how the union’s solidarity was broken during the '04-05 lockout. It is not clear how the launching of this investigation will impact plans to hire a new executive director to negotiate the next NHL CBA. Prior to his firing, Kelly had told SportsBusiness Journal that he planned to begin negotiations for a new CBA this season, starting in '10. The NHL CBA expires in September '11, although the players have the right to extend it another year (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

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