NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly, who has been on the job less than two years, is facing intense scrutiny according to union sources and his status may be challenged when the Players' Association's 30-member executive committee convenes Sunday and Monday in Chicago at a regularly scheduled meeting.
Sources tell TSN that NHLPA interim ombudsman, Buzz Hargrove is expected to make a presentation to the committee identifying concerns within the association about Kelly's leadership. No details have emerged about the nature of the concerns.
Sources say it's possible the executive committee could vote to have Kelly removed and, in accordance with the NHLPA constitution, could do so without consent from the full membership of NHL players.
Sources say a divide in leadership intensified in June at the summer meetings in Las Vegas when Hargrove, advisory board head Ron Pink and the advisory board addressed the membership privately and emerged with the executive committee's consent on a 5 year contract extension for the general counsel of the NHLPA, Ian Penny, without Kelly's consultation. A union source said that exclusion violated the PA's constitution.
According to article 6, section 2, subsection 3 of the players associations constitution, Kelly was required to be consulted by the 30 member executive board when Penny's contract was extended.
The article reads:
"The executive director shall consult with the executive board regarding the appointment and terms and conditions of employment of the general counsel of the association."
Another source says Kelly was consulted in the Penny negotiation.
It's believed Pink, a Halifax labour lawyer applied for the executive director job before Kelly was hired and sources say he would have strong interest in the job if Kelly is ousted.
While this weekend could erupt into a showdown between Kelly's supporters and those challenging his leadership, there is also a chance Hargrove and those who support him will be shot down by the committee and Paul Kelly and those close to him will get through the weekend unscathed.
Requests to interview Hargrove and Kelly were declined by the NHLPA.
Kelly succeeded Ted Saskin as executive director in October, 2007 after Saskin was let go amid allegations he had been monitoring players confidential emails.