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09-02-2009, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Wetcoaster View Post
Ron Pink has been mentioned in any number of reports. I have not seen a report where he has ruled himself out of the running for Executive Director. I was told by sources that I trust that it was Ron Pink who was the driving force behind this plan with inside information coming from within the NHLPA office. It could not have been Lindros as he was gone.

I have never claimed that Hargrove would make a bid for Executive Director.

Ian Penny was reported to be on his way out of the NHLPA if Kelly remained.

Eric Lindros resigned but there have been a number of reports that this was forced resignation and that he and Kelly had a very poor relationship. Given Lindros' history with his employers that is not difficult to believe.

Bill Watters seems to think that the affair was driven by Ian Penny and Ron Pink. IMHO there is no way that Buzz Hargrove was capable of writing the extensive and detailed report that he presented but I have no doubt his actual presentation was good, probably even compelling.

When I was a young associate (i.e employee) lawyer, one of the partners who specialized in litigation was one of the most effective advocates I have ever seen work a courtroom or tribunal hearing. However he could not research to save his life and his writing was not all that great. However put him at the bar with the research done and the argument written and he was hell on wheels - my job was to prepare him. BTW when I left the firm several of the biggest clients followed me because it had became apparent that I was doing all the spade work.

That is my sense of how Hargrove operated.

I just listened again to Leaf's Lunch where Darren Dreger walked through the process as he was camped out on the doorstep at the hotel ballroom.

What was criticized by both Dreger and Watters was that the case against Kelly was presented over many hours by Hargrove and was supported by an anonymous letter that according to them was extremely detailed and came from within the NHLPA offices. Watters thinks it was Penney. Watters says Kelly's big mistake was not removing Penney the moment he came on board.

There was also apparently a report from an outside consultant. Kelly was not given the opportunity to review either report.

Watters describe the process as a "crucifixion" and "seven hours of punching Paul Kelly in the face". Dreger was little less graphic but said much the same thing about it being a smear job.

Watters also referred to the NHLPA spending money like it was water and that Kelly was trying to do something about that.

What was most startling to me from a legal perspective was that at no time was Kelly given the opportunity to review the evidence against before being allowed to speak. Dreger and Watters were very clear on that point. It is pretty difficult to answer detailed allegations that are sprung on you at the last moment. Trial by ambush went out of favour in our court system decades ago.

The most basic rule of termination of an employment contract is that you must give the employee an opportunity to see the case being made against him and to have an opportunity to respond. Every labour lawyer knows this and Ron Pink is a well-known labour lawyer.

It is also well established that if there is a concern about such things as performance, management style, etc. that the employee must be presented with the details and given an opportunity to correct the alleged problems. There must be what is referred to as "progressive discipline" - oral meetings outlining the issues, opportunity to correct, further review, written notification, opportunity to correct and finally termination.

In certain limited cases there may be a single act so egregious that it constitutes legal cause and in that case the employer may be justified in immediate termination. Of course you would then have to prove your position in court should the employee subsequently challenge the termination as being for cause.

This is basic employment law and well-known by any run of the mill HR professional let alone a labour lawyer. This is on Page 1 of "Employment Law for Dummies".

This is not one of those limited cases according to Buzz Hargrove himself:


The statement from the Executive Board announcing Kelly's termination:

Here is good summary of the law on termination for cause.

It is my understanding that the NHLPA is intending to pay out Kelly under the termination provisions of his contract. If so then there will be no lawsuit for wrongful dismissal. I would certainly expect that as part of the payment and settlement of these matters there will be mutual releases signed that will incorporate confidentiality clauses

Given what has occurred and the manner in which appears this is going to be resolved, speculation may be the best we get.

Based upon what I have observed, what I have been told and what has been reported (principally from Darren Dreger who was the only media rep to be there from start to finish and who broke the initial story of Paul Kelly's job being in jeopardy), I believe the hatchet job on Kelly was part of a well-planned strategy from a faction within the NHLPA. The idea was to blitz Kelly, give him no opportunity to see the case against him and respond and then overwhelm the player reps with a litany of minor complaints.

Ian Penny had his contract extended without Paul Kelly being involved (how is that for strange) - in fact there are reports that Kelly was recommending that Penny not be extended and another general counsel be hired. The name I heard as being the replacement from two of my sources was Ian Pulver who had worked with Goodenow. Penny was in place to step into Kelly's shoes if the faction could persuade the player reps to remove Kelly.

It worked.

I did a google news search for "Ron Pink". Only 16 stories came up. "Paul Kelly" turned up 862 stories and at a glance, the bulk seemed to relate to the NHLPA. Of the 16 stories with "Ron Pink", about four had some speculation that he might have been involved with no substantiation.

Where he got mentioned beyond in passing and not speculating:
“As for what’s being said out there about Buzz Hargrove or Ian Penny, Ron Pink and Eric Lindros, those are just complete fabrications,” Ference said. “Lindros had nothing to do with this. When he resigned, he was finished with official business as far as the union goes. Did he and Kelly disagree when he was ombudsman? Yes, but he had nothing to do with this decision.

“There were no personal agendas, I can tell you that. This was based on what our review found and things I unfortunately cannot discuss at this time. But all of that stuff is crazy.”

An NHLPA spokesperson also said the claims that Lindros and Penny took money from the NHLPA “have no basis in fact.”
Ference, a rep who was there, gave him a pass.

Here's where Hargrove says Pink is not a candidate to take over.
Hargrove said Ron Pink, who applied for the executive director's job when it was awarded to Kelly and remained as part of an advisory committee, is not interested in the post.

Hargrove also dismissed rumours that Eric Lindros, who unhappily resigned from the ombudsman post, was the driving force behind the move to oust Kelly.

"These young players, I have to say with the greatest sincerity and honesty that I can muster, don't even know Eric Lindros," Hargrove said. "They know his name but he has not played any role."
So the only fingers pointing at Pink as of right now are "unnamed sources" in the best case according to that review.

As for your citing of research, that's great but I don't really know if Hargrove can research or not or got someone (assistant) to help him. As his report is limited to reporting the facts, his is just one more voice of what appears to have been many in this review. So far, I haven't been able to detect anything sinister on his end.

As for the employment law, it really depends on what the conduct is as to whether one fires an employee on the spot. They did give Kelly a chance to respond to the concerns at the meeting but again, depending on what the concerns are contributes to whether one decides to allow him to research what his answer to the charges would be. And for some/lots of conduct, no research is required to provide an answer.

For example, ff he was counseling NHLPA employees to not talk to the Ombudsman or he would nail them in their review as Lindros reported and he was doing forensic accounting investigations vindictively (without good cause) to go after his critics, then I'd fire him on the spot too. He should know better and shouldn't require any warning for that sort of behavior. Stupid is as stupid does ... and stupid gets fired.

Again, I'm not concluded on what has gone on here. But I continue to try to look objectively for evidence. I've seen no evidence beyond removed innuendo that Hargrove, Pink, Penny or Lindros did anything wrong. And I haven't seen much specific evidence that Kelly did anything specifically wrong. I have seen evidence that the players took a pretty hard and careful look and that Kelly was given an opportunity to answer the complaints against him. So I am having some trouble with the conspiracy theory being as probable.

Last edited by Jarqui: 09-02-2009 at 05:18 PM.
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