SUN Hockey Pool

Paul Kelly's ousting raises concerns

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

Prominent NHL players and agents have begun stirring the pot about last month's firing of union boss Paul Kelly, much to the annoyance of those who pulled the trigger.

Statements by agents J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson of CAA Hockey -- and Brisson's star client Sidney Crosby -- have raised questions of whether nearly 700 members were properly informed before the firing, while Chris Chelios, who represented the Detroit Red Wings at the fateful late-night meeting in Chicago, added his concerns.

The executive board, made up of player reps, voted overwhelmingly to oust Kelly after just two years on the job. Several published reports said Kelly was accused of reading a transcript of a players only meeting, which he denied, among other allegations. But under current union rules, the reps can take such bold steps without the full membership's approval.

"I agree that our abrupt vote was questionable without being able to explain our position to our teammates," Chelios told TSN yesterday. "But, at the end of the day, we had advisors and PA staff and not once did they say ... we need to wait. We've been down this road before (most recently removing Kelly's predecessor Ted Saskin). We should have been more patient."

The two agents said that in numerous discussions with clients: "Some of the things we have learned about the process are very troubling to us. We believe that a strong and unified voice is necessary. In order for that to happen, the majority of players must be heard."

They urged clients to be better educated about the PA's workings. Crosby concurred.

"I definitely want to know how things happened," Crosby told ESPN. "I am part of the union and I think we all deserve a good explanation."

The comments struck a nerve in the Maple Leafs dressing room where three player reps reside, Matt Stajan (Toronto), Mike Komisarek (Montreal) and Garnet Exelby (Atlanta).

"I believe we shouldn't discuss this through the media," Komisarek said. "Each team puts their rep in charge to make these decisions for the group and that's what happened.

"We'll have a conference call in a couple of weeks and know more about it then. It's a PA matter to be discussed internally and we're moving on, focused on going into the season."

Stajan and other reps agreed the union's constitution might need to be tweaked in future, but Stajan was in full support of what happened in Chicago.

"We had everything laid out in front of us," Stajan said. "I'm fully confident we made the right decision. I don't think anything I hear can change that."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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