One of these years, the NHL Players Association will manage to maintain some semblance of harmony and keep a union chief for the long haul.The dismissal of Paul Kelly on Monday means the union will be searching for its third boss since Bob Goodenow resigned after the collective bargaining agreement was finalized to end the 2004-05 lockout.
General counsel Ian Penny will serve as executive director on an interim basis.
Kelly, a Boston attorney who was involved in the prosecution of disgraced former NHLPA head Alan Eagleson, was named to replace Ted Saskin, who negotiated the final terms of the CBA that includes the salary cap that Goodenow found to be so objectionable.
Saskin, who had been Goodenow's right-hand man, took over as union head but was ousted in May 2007 following complaints that he had been monitoring players' e-mails.
Kelly was named to the position five months later, but now he's gone following a power play inside what has become a very dysfunctional organization.
Kelly appeared to be doing a good job, having inherited a CBA that, despite a salary cap, hardly has put a stop to the lucrative salaries that teams continue to bestow on players, whose free agent rights are more liberal than ever.
But because players are "limited" to about 56 percent of league revenues – still not a bad take – an escrow procedure requires a portion of players’ checks to be withheld during the season.
A final accounting following each season ensures that players have received no more than the percentage permitted under the CBA’s terms.
As much as 25 percent was withheld last season because of the poor economy, but that hardly was Kelly's doing.
Barring some surprise revelation, the reasons for Kelly's firing appear to have a lot more to do with union infighting than with Kelly himself.