Monday, August 31, 2009

Turmoil for the National Hockey League's Players Association

Things do not look so hot right now for stable relations between the players in the National Hockey League and the owners:
Less than two years after his hiring, Paul Kelly is out as as executive director of the NHL Players' Association, union sources confirmed to

The story was first reported by TSN on its Web site.

Kelly's firing came Monday following an hours-long meeting by the 30-member NHLPA executive board.

Kelly was hired in October 2007 following the firing of Ted Saskin, who was alleged to have ordered the spying of NHLPA player e-mail in the midst of a membership uprising against his leadership.

Before joining the NHLPA, Kelly was a partner at Kelly, Libby & Hoopes, a Boston law firm that specializes in internal investigations and complex civil and administrative litigation. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and was involved in the investigation of former NHLPA leader Alan Eagleson.

This kind of turmoil can either lead to finding a good replacement who will represent the players or it can lead to the hiring of someone who will take them into yet another labor stoppage and yet another disaster for rookies and aging veterans. The head of a players association is a make-or-break position for a sport. Find the wrong person, and you end up with a disaster. Find the right person, and you end up with everyone getting a reasonably good slice of the pie that's out there.

Bottom line, though, is that the National Hockey League needs to continue repairing its image and it needs to keep the product on the ice. Bad relations with management could kill the sport.

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