The drama continues to unfold at the National Hockey League Players' Association with news that interim executive director Ian Penny has parted ways with the organization.
While Penny resigned his position with the NHLPA on Friday, he believes he was effectively dismissed.
The NHLPA released a statement on Friday, explaining Penny's current status with regards to the association.
"Interim Executive Director Ian Penny informed the NHLPA staff and the NHLPA Executive Board earlier today that it is his position he has been constructively dismissed as Interim Executive Director of the NHLPA and can no longer work in the present circumstances. Effective today, Ian Penny is no longer employed by the NHLPA."
While Penny is out as interim executive director, the NHLPA will continue to operate, governed by the 30-member executive board.
Sources indicate Steve Larmer, Dan O'Neill and Ron Lloyd of the NHLPA's Advisory Board resigned Thursday night and legal counsel Paul Cavalluzzo resigned on Friday morning. O'Neill had been on a leave of absence from the Advisory Board since becoming involved with the Tampa Bay ownership group last spring.
Last week, the NHLPA executive board voted 25-5 in favour of forming a committee to review union operations.
NHL veterans Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi along with former Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios were named to the committee.
Earlier this week, the committee sent out an e-mail to its members outlining their strategic plan.
According to Hockeycentral at Noon's Nick Kypreos, The NHLPA has shut down its operations, including the suspension of responsibilities for interim Executive Director, Ian Penny.
Uh, wow. For clarification's sake, what Kypreos actually said on the air:
"I think the last committee that they put together ... they've essentially suspended all operations, including the interim executive director. Ian Penny's been shut down. They shut down the NHLPA."
(Q. So, if you went to the NHLPA today, the door's closed?)
"I don't think it would be closed, but they're not in a position to function on a daily basis. The ombudsman [Buzz Hargrove] has been suspended. The regional guys that represent their divisions have all been shut down as well. I hope this thing comes to a head. You'll probably hear from Ian Penny in some way and form, possibly resigning. ... Effectively, the last few days, it's been clear that he's been constructively dismissed."
Curious phrase, that last one. It was repeated in the NHLPA press release today that refuted Kypreos's claim that the players' association had suspended operations, but confirmed that interim boss Ian Penny is done with the NHLPA.
From the NHLPA:
"Interim Executive Director Ian Penny informed the NHLPA staff and the NHLPA Executive Board earlier today that it is his position he has been constructively dismissed as Interim Executive Director of the NHLPA and can no longer work in the present circumstances. Effective today, Ian Penny is no longer employed by the NHLPA.
"There have been inaccurate media reports circulating today that the NHLPA has suspended operations. The NHLPA staff continues to work very hard on behalf of the players in all areas of the Association's business and will continue to do so going forward.
"The NHLPA will make no further comment today on this internal matter."
I got to read Ian Penny's letter that was posted online and he says that Chelios is leading a witch hunt against him and anyone else who was involved in getting rid of Paul Kelly. This is going to get wild and fun and I think we're going to see Paul Kelly back. God bless dirty politics and those who play it.
For those wanting to read the letter:
Ian Penny's letter to the NHLPA
Executive Board Members: I am writing to the Board in my capacity as Interim Executive Director to share my concerns about a number of very troubling issues, including surveillance activities at the NHLPA office; the leaking of confidential information from Board meetings; fatal flaws with the review of operations; and my personal situation. I recognize that I am in a conflicted position when I comment on the review and some of the other office issues that concern me, but it remains my duty to advise the Board on these types of matters.
1. Poisonous Office Environment In recent weeks, there have been a series of hostile and intimidating acts taken against members of the NHLPA staff. These acts are contrary to the legal obligation of the NHLPA to create a safe work environment that is free of harassment. Unfortunately, this obligation is not being fulfilled because of these acts, which include the following:
* Chris Chelios is using staff members inside the office to monitor the meetings and discussions of their fellow employees and report back to him on their activities
* Chelios has confronted multiple employees and interrogated them about why they were meeting with other staffers and what was said in their discussions
* The most recent example of this surveillance campaign occurred on Tuesday, when Chelios sent me the following text message while I was meeting with four other managers in a board room:
"Ian when you r done can you please call me and let me know what you 5 staff members are discussing with each other i would like to know being your guys Emplyer."
It is obvious based on this text message and other recent incidents that Chelios has staff members spying on their colleagues so that he can intimidate and harass the targeted staffers. This completely inappropriate conduct has created a hostile, fractured and distrustful work environment. It is the type of environment that exists in repressive, totalitarian regimes - not work places. It must stop immediately.
Chelios' suggestion that he is the employer and that he is entitled to engage in this form of harassment is simply wrong. No employer is entitled to intimidate employees in this manner. In addition, this view reflects a misunderstanding of the relationship between the Executive Board and the staff. There are over 700 NHLPA members who dictate the union's course through 30 Player Reps acting as a group. No single Player and no single Player Rep directs the day to day management of the NHLPA or its staff. Not only would that be a recipe for chaos, it would allow a single Player to engage in activities that may create legal liability for the entire membership.
Because I am a target of Chelios' surveillance activities, I strongly recommend that the Board seek guidance from other counsel regarding the legal exposure that these activities may have created for the NHLPA.