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Paul Kelly

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After months of political manoeuvring and speculation… and pending ratification, Donald Fehr appears primed to formally take office as the Executive Director of the NHLPA with the Ilya Kovalchuk saga providing an appropriate backdrop. Despite having earlier dismissed himself as a candidate for the role, the former MLBPA hardliner is now expected to spearhead the players union through the next series of collective bargaining negotiations in 2012.

Either a spectre to be feared, or a challenge to be relished for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, one wonders if the league office wishes it had treated the ailing NHLPA with kid gloves following the late, late night coup that saw former figurehead Paul Kelly overthrown in August 2009.

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If leaked reports are to be believed the NHLPA is preparing to file a grievance pertaining to the NHL’s rejection of the unprecedented 17 year, $102 million contract filed last week by the New Jersey Devils for Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk. The report suggests that even if the Devils and Kovalchuk can agree on a restructured deal, the NHLPA may still decide to file a grievance in a preventative effort for future contracts.

The latter part is particularly significant for those who have been viewing the leagues rejection of the initial contract as an act of political posturing in the face of the PA’s on-going power struggle and an attempt at drawing a line in the sand.

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    Johnny Misley is the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada, and plays a key role in enhancing hockey in Canada across various levels: from the grassroots programmes all the way up to the National teams. It was very kind of Johnny to take a few minutes to discuss the programme’s aspirations in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Regina as well as the Men’s Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver.

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      Former NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly finally broke his silence yesterday following his firing early Monday morning. In a vicious 24 hours that also witnessed Glenn Healy’s resignation, Kelly was forced to defend himself against allegations he misused his office having reputedly been caught reading a confidential transcript from a players meeting.

      For his part, Kelly admitted reading the document to the Executive Board meeting that preceded his departure, saying he felt “duty bound” after union members, concerned that the NHLPA constitution was being violated, actively sought his participation.

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        One would be forgiven for trying to avoid the latest behind-the-scenes circus to befall the league and its players association. Amid the ongoing and incredulous tug of ego’s taking place at the now infamous Phoenix courthouse, Paul Kelly, Executive Director of the NHLPA was fired after a ten hour marathon of meetings in Chicago on Sunday.

        Kelly, who was thought to support expansion or relocation back into the Canadian market, was reportedly relieved of his duties following an expensive, ramshackle and unconstitutional investigation fronted by interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove.

        The investigation cited internal disputes surrounding Kelly’s direction, a lack of face time with the members of the union and an deep rooted belief that Kelly was becoming too close to the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his deputy Bill Daly.

        Resulting in a vote of no confidence from the 30 players who make up the NHLPA’s executive board, Kelly’s position within the union was terminated after just 22 months in office and Ian Penny, former second in command as General Counsel, was installed as the interim executive director.

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          Well, well, well.

          In the non-surprise of the century, Jim Balsillie put in an offer on the recently-bankrupted Phoenix Coyotes before the ink had even dried on the bankruptcy papers.    With a condition, of course:  that he would have the right to move the team to Southern Ontario.

          It’s not so much the offer that is of note – it’s been rumoured for months that he was targeting the franchise – but the timing of it is quite intriguing.   Could there be some legs to those rumours of a second team in the GTA after all?

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            WARNING: PLEASE BE ADVISED THE FOLLOWING POST WILL ATTRACT LOTS OF TROLLS, LEAF HATERS AND LOADS OF “TORONTO DOESN’T DESERVE A SECOND NHL TEAM, LAS VEGAS OR WINNIPEG DOES.”  THIS POST IS DIRECTED AT DIE HARD LEAF FANS AND FANS WHO LIVE IN THE TORONTO AREA.

            CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

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              NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly was on HockeyCentral At Noon today, and among other topics he briefly discussed the possibility of a second NHL team coming to Toronto.

              When asked why Toronto has not been seriously considered to date as a home for another franchise, despite the enormous fan base and subsequent opportunity to succeed financially, Kelly suggested that MLSE was not the source of resistance.