SUN Hockey Pool

NHLPA plans 'a few tweaks'

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

The NHLPA likely will make some minor alterations to its constitution in the wake of the Paul Kelly dismissal, union rep Garnet Exelby admitted yesterday.

But in no way will any significant changes be implemented that would strip the players of any of the "checks and balances" instituted to keep the union's executive director in line, whoever that might be.

Not after the mess that was created involving the promotion of Ted Saskin to that post during the lockout of 2004-05, a move that eventually sparked a revolt within the union that led to Saskin's ousting.

That ugly affair prompted the players to rewrite the union constitution,

"We'll probably make a few tweaks here and there, but we definitely want to keep our checks and balances," Exelby said. "That's the way we wanted it when (the constitution was rewritten). We wanted to make sure the players had control.

"We definitely want to keep the power dispersed so that no one person or group can hijack us."

Exelby was reacting to comments made earlier in the day by Kelly, who insinuated that the system within the union made life difficult at times. Reading between the lines, Kelly seemed to be suggesting there might be too many cooks in the kitchen.

"I've been in the corporate governance world in my prior life and this is a challenging job to begin with," he said during a radio interview earlier yesterday. "But given the current structure, it is really an enormously challenging position when you have a number of bright and, I think, well-intentioned people, who are critiquing your every move, your every comment, your every action and second-guessing it.

CHALLENGES

"I don't say that in a malicious way, but it presents challenges that, frankly, nobody in a similar role (such as baseball union head Donald Fehr, for example), really ever had to face. Going forward, I hope the players can take a good hard look at that structure and address it for the better, just so that this organization will be healthier and stronger in the future."

Exelby said he was not surprised that Kelly chose not to get into a public mud-slinging war with the union.

"I don't think any of us are," he said. "He is a man of quality character. He had our best interests in mind, but we needed to go in a different direction."

Exelby, whose tenure as the Atlanta Thrashers player rep will soon come to an end now that he is a Maple Leaf, was present at the meeting in Chicago this past weekend and took part in the vote to relieve Kelly of his duties.

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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