Paul Kelly will wait until later this week to give his interpretation of the events that led to his abrupt removal as the NHLPA's executive director in the wee hours of Monday morning.
When reached by telephone yesterday, it was apparent that the developments at the annual National Hockey League Players' Association executive board meeting in Chicago on Sunday and Monday staggered Kelly, and he wants time to sort out his sentiments.
"I want to take some time to let my emotions settle before I talk about this," he said. "Quite frankly, I'm still stunned and saddened at what has happened. I need a little time to figure out exactly what I want to say to the players and to the public."
Several NHL players contacted yesterday shared Kelly's reaction of shock at the news that Kelly had been sacked after just 22 months on the job. Most players were informed of the executive board's decision through an e-mail sent out by their player representatives at the meeting.
Toronto Maple Leafs player representative Matt Stajan met with some of his teammates at an informal skate yesterday and updated them.
"There were a number of things that were new to them and that they should know," Stajan said. "Probably some guys were surprised, but they were the facts. Moving forward, that's what we had to do. I don't think there was one guy in the room who feels we did the wrong thing."
Other players around the league did not want to comment on the surprising developments until they talked with their team representative.
"This came out of left field," one player said. "The decision has most of us scratching our heads. But we don't know any of the facts. I really didn't know [Kelly]that well, but I do know my player rep. and who [interim executive director]Ian Penny is. I'm sure they wouldn't act this way unless they had their reasons."
The NHLPA executive board has tried to keep the precise details that led to Kelly's removal a secret until the rest of the players are informed.
But it's clear there was a disconnect between Kelly and the players that made the executive board uneasy. There also was a rift between Kelly and some of the high-level NHLPA employees such as Penny, a labour lawyer who was appointed the interim executive director on Monday, and Eric Lindros, who resigned as the union's ombudsman last February.
Kelly did have some supporters, including NHLPA director of player affairs Glenn Healy and his assistant, Patrick Flatley. Flatley resigned on Monday after Kelly's dismissal, but Healy remains with the union for the time being. He did not return phone calls yesterday.
Bob Lindquist also resigned. He is a friend of Kelly's and an accounting consultant who helped the NHLPA determine the hockey-related revenues from NHL teams that determined where the salary-cap limit should be set.
Both Flatley and Lindquist were part-time employees brought in by Kelly.
Both Penny and interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove stated on Monday that they have removed themselves from consideration for the job.
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