I did a google news search for "Paul Kelly hired NHLPA" to refresh myself on the things that were said when he was brought on back in 2007. I remembered at the time being nervous because it sounded like they were bringing in another hardass like Goodenow and IIRC, there were suggestions at the time that the PA was going to re-open the CBA at their first option (which I believe has come and gone). As a fan, it didn't bode to well for the future. It seems to me that is what the search commitee thought they were getting in Kelly, but aren't satisfied that it is what he has delivered. On top of that, they made the point of including the new Ombudsman position in their new constitution - a position that Kelly made clear he felt was unnecessary and "obsolete".
Here's what Player Rep Garnett Exelby had to say today:
- "The last time we gave up a lot" (referring to the last CBA negotiation)
- "I think it's a fair statement that ownership got what it wanted in the last agreement.
- "We need a strong leader"
- "We need to find someone who understands we are in charge, someone who understands decisions go through us."
In other words, if you're expecting this contract negotiation to be friendly and cordial, don't apply. If you want to have dinner with Bettman Friday, discuss the CBA while you take in the Rangers game Saturday and send it for ratification Sunday, don't apply. The NHLPA and the NHL need to be partners, but if you want to be pals with Gary and Bill, don't apply. And if you don't want to work with somebody looking over your shoulder, don't apply. WE don't work for YOU, YOU work for US.
I'm gonna enjoy these next two years and hope for the best, but I'm afraid things could get very bloody. Wouldn't even surprise me to see Goodenow brought back.
“The firing had absolutely nothing to do with him being cozy with Bettman or him being proactive toward looking for a solution - any of that,’’ Ference said. “That’s something that was valuable. That was one of his great assets to us, that he did have a good relationship and working toward that. That’s part of the reason we gave him the job in the first place.
“It’s definitely not the reason why we got rid of him, because having a good business relationship and a good working relationship with the league is essential to avoiding a work stoppage. We’ve been through the militancy.’’
I think they mean no player stepped up to state his displeasure who was at the meeting though 5 of 27 did vote to continue to with Kelly.
So according to the above, they were having this problem:
"The main purpose of the Las Vegas meeting was to discuss Kelly’s leadership. There were concerns and issues that emerged at the executive board’s annual meetings in Chicago a year ago, and resurfaced with the resignation of Eric Lindros as the union’s newly created ombudsman earlier this year."
... going back to Chicago, through Lindros and then the Las Vegas meeting that was dedicated to reviewing Kelly.
Not satisfied, they dispatch 4 reps and a HR consultant to check it out and speak with all the staff at the NHLPA. And they get Hargrove's report.
Let's tally the Kelly complaints concerns:
1. Complaints/concerns in Chicago meeting a year ago
2. Complaints/concerns by Ombudsman Lindros in Feburary who resigns
3. Complaints/concerns in meeting dedicated to deal with them in Las Vegas last June
4. Complaints/concerns by Ombudsman Hargrove recently
5. Four player reps & HR Consultant check them out with all the NHLPA staff and it looks like what they found wasn't all good.
In doing so, with his job already in question, the players find out Kelly was 'snooping' (or whatever you want to call it) and Kelly doesn't deny it. In light of what Saksin did, I can understand why the players might be a little hyper sensitive on that one.
Well, if that's all true, the conspiracy theory has to take a back seat as there were problems going back a year ago and coming from all kinds of directions. As well, for those concerned about employment law, Kelly already had notice on at least some some of these problems at the latest by February with the three page Lindros letter and failed to get the issues tamped down. It appears, if the above is true, that the players may have had reasonable cause with the 'snooping' being the straw that broke the sensitive camel's back.
Like the conspiracy theory, I take the above with a grain of salt because there are not a lot of quotes/hard evidence in that article. I also can't conclude what the players did was absolutely right or wrong under the circumstances with the sketchy, unverified details. But there's little doubt that the distinct possibility exists that the players had good cause to do what they did and that it was not as a result of a conspiracy/power play.
I would take issue with a number of your complaints/concerns, at least how it relates to employment law.
What were the concerns from Chicago? How were they presented? "By the way Paul, do you think you could maybe ......" could be the complaint being listed, which Kelly rightly or wrongly may have taken as a request as opposed to a complaint about his work.
Lindros' letter. #1, he resigned. His letter is discounted automatically to some degree due to that fact, IMHO. The kid crying and screaming as he's dragged out the door. If the ombudsman's role is to actually accomplish something where there is a need to accomplish something, why quit? But looking back at his resignation, the reports did not point to Lindros being a model ombudsman either.
Between the fact he resigned(which makes his letter a letter for people to read as opposed to an actual review of Kelly's work in the first place), and his work as ombudsman, I don't really give his letter the credence you do.
Secret meeting to deal with him in Las Vegas? If they are in the process of reviewing him, and following the steps of employment law, why the need for a secret meeting? This one really has me concerned. It appears as though a faction wanted Ian Penney around, knew Kelly would not support it, so they had a secret meeting.
And reading the minutes of this meeting is hardly the same as Ted Saskin reading the emails. Had the players gotten together informally and said "We need to look at Kelly," and kelly had a snoop or whatever, I would agree that was a very bad thing to do. But this secret meeting also handed a 5 year contract to a very high position in the PA without the Executive Director present. This is very much PA business that Kelly has every right to know. Firing him for having read those minutes, and then calling the players out for not following the constitution is a very weak excuse.
The Hargrove letter could very well be a proper step, as could be the 4 reps. What we don't know, however, is how muh of this was dealt directly with Kelly, and how much of it was just thrown out there? A lot of these things are peripherals that are now being brought back to try to create a retroactive case, but quite frankly if those things at the time represented possible steps to a future dismissal, it would have gotten out that he was heading down a wrong path. The PA is not that airtight.
n his letter, however, Lindros questioned Kelly’s support for the role. The letter quoted Kelly from a January appearance on “Hockey Night in Canada” in which he said: “If the person [ombudsman] is there to receive and investigate complaints and there are no complaints,” then the union is “just paying a person and occupying an office.”
From NHLPA Constitution Article VIII OMBUDSMAN Section 2(A)
.... The Ombudsman(men) shall receive and resolve any complaints by members and/or staff of the Association and shall have the authority to retain outside expert advice in carrying out these duties at his/their discretion. Any complaints which cannot be resolved by the Ombudsman(men) shall be referred to the Executive Board. The Ombudsman(men) shall be responsible for advising the Executive Board on such complaints.
So here we have Kelly undermining the Ombudsman role and downplaying that there were any concerns.
Among the issues/complaints Lindros raised in the letter were:
Kelly’s agreement with the league on an 84-game schedule. Lindros wrote that “although the league decided against the change, the proper process of voting [on the proposed change within the union] was not adhered to.”
Among the issues/complaints Lindros raised in the letter were:
The involvement of Chicago-based search firm Reilly Partners as well as the payments to the firm in regard to the NHLPA advisory board search and the search for a marketing director.
In the TSN video report on the firing, I believe it was Chelios who said that there had been questions about what Reilly Partners did for the search and that the NHLPA would definitely not be using them again.
Again, point to Lindros when the dust settled.
Among the issues/complaints Lindros raised in the letter were:
Whether NHLPA staff members who complained to the ombudsman were asked about their loyalty to the executive director in or around the time of their annual salary reviews.
I suspect that the 4 reps who recently interviewed all the NHLPA employees with an HR consultant got to the bottom of this concern.
All of them are legitimate concerns to be raised by an Ombudsman and it looks like at least three had real merit while the fourth may have turned out to have merit.
On the basis of the Lindros letter, it looks like he was doing exactly what his mandate suggested he should and he presented legitimate concerns that got verified.
"This was orchestrated, to me," Lindsay said, "with a particular thought of unionism and intimidation...to me, I say we're right back into the '67 era when (Alan) Eagleson was taking over. See, there's a lot of traits of Eagleson right here."
If the players are hell bent on a hard-line approach to the next CBA negotiation, they are going to get crushed.
The owners will sit them out for 5 years. They don't care.
Goodbye guaranteed contracts, goodbye arbitration, goodbye early free agency.
The last CBA as actually worked out not too badly for the players, and the PA is better off working with the league to tweak the current agreement rather than taking an adversarial approach straight away.
Pat Flatley then NHLPA Assistant Director of player affairs (who resigned right after the firing of Kelly) told Bill Watters and Darren Dreger on Leaf's Lunch that he asked Lindsay to come to Chicago to try to give some historical perspective to what was being done.
Lindsay also said:
"That was the biggest scam job, execution, that I've ever seen in my life."
"I was thinking, boy, this is really a crucifixion of Paul Kelly that's going on."
Why does this organization exist? How many players would be better off if the NHLPA folded? Why do they want to be associated with what more than one pundit has declared to be a laughingstock? Who can blame any player who chooses apathy? We’re going to keep seeing NHLPA car wrecks like this one because the players are apathetic, and because the union is weak, fractious and inherently unstable.
Eric Duhatschek thinks the NHLPA should be burned to the ground and rebuilt from scratch. I’d just burn it to the ground.
Healy said an Office Health Assessment report “indicated that I have misled the players and do not tell them the full truth. These accusations were made because of comments that I have made to players, in particular about Wayne Gretzky and his contributions and personal sacrifices for the Players' Association. When Wayne Gretzky joined our Group Licensing Agreement in 1992, it made the Players' Association millions of dollars, has allowed the PA to stand on its own, and allowed every player to prosper.
“Ian Penny, your Interim Executive Director and General Counsel, openly disagreed with my defence of Wayne Gretzky and proceeded to openly criticize Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in front of the Executive Board, Advisory Board, Players' Association employees, the Ombudsman, and the great man who started this very association, Ted Lindsay. I would never and have not misled or told any untruths to any player. I cannot sit back and continue to perform my duties when my Players' Association co-workers unjustifiably impugn my credibility in front of the players I represent and fire shots against Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, two of the greatest players in the game, who have benefited every player in this Players' Association.”
I do find the talk of a sense of urgency to do this now amusing.
Of course they state their reason for urgency as a need to replace Kelly asap. But I think the fact that the current executive board will not exist in a few weeks had more to do with the urgency than any need to replace Kelly quickly.
Isn't it amazing that a decision this important was decided while players like Komisarek and Exelby repped their old teams and Peters repped the Sabres even though he isn't even in the NHL right now and sure as hell wont be a Sabre this year.
So at the very least the Sabres, Thrashers and Habs will have new reps. The new reps may not be as swayed by the arguements as their predecessors.
The folks behind this were quite deft in their political manuvering. They held their cards until the best time to play them. Then used them to max effect with an executive board they had been plying for a year. They gave Kelly virtually no way to defend himself and assured the result they were looking for.
Multiple sources said members of the advisory board and divisional player reps were seen high-fiving each other and hugging in celebration after the Chicago meeting broke up.
Celebration? Celebrating after ousting a man they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire less than two years ago and to whom they may yet end up owing millions? The Kelly mess is another low moment for a union whose history is chock-full of low moments.
One wonders if that will be part of the selling package when the NHLPA fills this role, assuming they can find anyone willing to submit a résumé.
XM HTM today had some interesting thoughts on this situation.
First, many observers are concerned about a regime change, not only because of what the new head's stance might be, but also because the *dialog* the Kelly had with the league has to start anew.
In his HTM interview this morning (link in Phoenix thread), Daly indicated that the NHL and NHLPA planned to sit down after the start of the season to begin to discuss the next CBA.
This is now on hold until a new head is selected (perhaps January before one is in place), and any new person would probably have to "hit the ground running" on any planned negotiations (or push it out and raise the blood pressure of fans and all the "little people" who depend on the NHL for their livelihoods and may really suffer if there is a hard-line stance resulting in another labor stoppage).
He's not planning on showing up on my TV this season, is he?
This was my first reaction too, LOL.
Someone not in the media please hire him back!
The good news is that while the league isn't completely happy with the current CBA, IMO they are happy enough to be willing to continue it through negotiations. That means no lockout.
A strike, though? A scary possibility. We'll see who the new junta hires. What really makes me nervous, though, is the way the NHLPA is behaving - like kool-ade drinkers, basically. Visual celebrations when firing their leader? Yikes. It's like the player reps are desperate to be "seen" to be victors, whether what they do is right or not.
From a long way outside, this looks like a lose-lose-lose (NHLPA-NHL-fans/vendors) proposition to me. Are you getting that feedback?
One agent said to me this is so dysfunctional that the NHL may not be able to figure out what faction of the NHLPA can do a deal.
I was involved with the PA back when Goodenow first came on board and it was never like this.
I know a lot posters do not agree with me but Trevor Linden has lot to answer for when he and Saskin got together. Mind you the PA was already being undermined by a couple of agents and some players. The mistake the PA made at that time was not coming down hard on those agents and players. The PA had its strategy and it was approved by all player reps and the players themselves. Everyone knew that if the NHL locked out the players it was a minimum of one season lost because the NHL had prepared for that long - every player was aware that if they decided to fight those would be the terms. It was no secret.
Personally I never believed that players would undermine the PA and I am pretty sure that it came as quite a shock to Goodenow.
To be clear Goodenow was tough on agents and if you were not on your game and did not get everything you could for your client you could well expect to get a royal ass-kicking via the telephone.
OTOH if you needed help in putting anything together for your hearings or negotiations you got all the help you could want or need. In fact sometimes it was even a little embarrassing to go into an arbitration or negotiation and the GM or Assistant GM had virtually nothing to answer you with.
If you want to get a sense of this read Bruce Dowbiggin's book Money Players: How Hockey's Greatest Stars Beat The NHL At It's Own Game. The book was updated in 2006 and re-titled:
Money Players: The Amazing Rise & Fall of Bob Goodenow and the NHL Players Association http://www.amazon.ca/Money-Players-A...2017848&sr=1-1
I have no clue how the NHLPA is going to be able to move forward. They say Eagleson was a crook, Goodenow was too tough, Saskin too sleazy and and Paul Kelly not confrontational enough. Where do you go from here?
It is not as if the NHLPA did not know what they were getting as this was Kelly's description of what he saw as being needed when he met with the BOG in November 2007 one month after his appointment and this was his message when he was hired:
"I actually started by telling them a little bit about my professional background, which is the fact I have spent 27 years as a trial lawyer and I have tried dozens and dozens of cases to juries and state and federal courts and that there's something invigorating about the fight," Kelly said. "Between hockey players, who are never shy to take on a fight, and a trial lawyer, who has had many, if it comes to that, I hope that my guys would be well-represented.
"That said, I really think that the way to approach this for the good of the fans, for the greater good of the sport, is to try and work through these issues. I told them expressly that it is my view that any labor interruption in this sport would be devastating, that the public, particularly in the United States, would turn away in disgust and that we owe it to the game and to the fans to work through issues and to avoid any discussions of lockouts and strikes. And I sensed a positive agreement on the part of the owners to that comment.''
Kelly spoke to the board for about 35 minutes, and one governor asked if some of his constituents were upset at his appearance at the meeting.
"My response to that is a couple of things," Kelly said. "One, there is going to be a reservoir of players, particularly some of the senior guys, that might hold that view. But frankly, in my judgment, it's a new day. We can't continue to hold those views of this relationship. We've got to talk, we've got to communicate; we can't have this kind of cold war approach.
"That said, I did tell the players' executive board of the Players' Association that I had been extended this invitation and I will tell you that every member of the executive board unanimously endorsed and encouraged me to come down here and to meet with and address the owners. It's not an issue."
It appears that it was that "reservoir of players, particularly some of the senior guys" that never did accept what Kelly was doing.
I simply have no confidence in the cabal that toppled Kelly. Paul Kelly went up against organized crime as a federal prosecutor, he nailed Alan Eagleson in spite of all the politicking come from Canada's power elite - how tough do you think that was?
The cheering you here is coming from the NHL head offices where Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are celebrating.
Paul Kelly has now answered the charge of personal misconduct:
Former NHL union leader Paul Kelly denies an accusation that he misused his office by reading a transcript of a private players' meeting.
"I cannot stand by and allow this false and misleading attack on my character and reputation," Kelly said in a statement released Thursday. "I spent almost 10 years as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting numerous cases pertaining to fraud and dishonesty, including one involving a former NHLPA executive director. My personal ethics and reputation are beyond reproach.
"I take enormous pride and comfort knowing that I always acted in the best interests of the players, including taking affirmative actions required of me based on my obligations to the players and the NHLPA," Kelly said.
IMHO the NHLPA has tried to commit suicide and may well be on life support.
See now that is what I would expect if the NHLPA was reasonable and forward thinking. It's a reasonable conclusion if you look at them that way. But I just can't see them in that light. IMO they will take a drink of the kool-ade and come out with more "we are united, we are strong!" chants in lockstep, as they have before.
It sure looks to me like they will use the "unity" tack in order to justify maintaining the new status quo. We know a Chelios will stand up and push for change if it looks like the leadership is too close to the owners, but will it take a year long work stoppage to have someone stand up and tell their leadership it's more important to be doing the right thing than to be united?
I wish I had confidence in the rank and file to make sure this happens, but the descriptions I read (acknowledging everything I am getting from this is third hand) don't give me much hope. It is disturbing.
Do the players even know the sort of reaction this has gotten?
Btw I don't think Bettman and Daly are laughing about this. I think they had hope that Kelly would be someone they could work with so the next CBA isn't contentious. Now no one knows what will happen.
There was an interesting note in the Burnside article I posted earlier.
Apparently Chelios was in the room pushing for them to shut down for the night and vote in the morning, but he was overruled.
Also, the vote was 22-5, so it wasn't quite as unanimous as has been indicated. I think that some of the younger guys in that meeting are going to go home to locker rooms that aren't too happy with their decision. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new NHLPA executive committee that sends Hargrove et al packing. It's too late to undo the firing, no doubt, but not too late to stop the NHLPA from going down a very dangerous road.