It appears as though the NHL Players' Association has made a blunder in their attempt to prove they had just cause for the firing of former NHLPA head Paul Kelly.
It has been revealed that former Ontario chief justice Roy McMurtry - who the NHLPA had hired to write an opinion on whether Kelly's conduct provided cause for dismissal - was in conflict of interest for accepting the role.
According to sources, McMurtry failed to disclose to the Players' Association upon his hiring that he had a past relationship with former NHLPA boss Alan Eagleson during the time that Kelly - then a prosecutor - helped to get the first ever executive director of the PA jailed for corruption and embezzlement charges. Eagleson was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty.
In a statement, the Players' Association acknowledged the conflict by coming clean with what many perceive to be a mistake.
"The NHLPA retained the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry on the basis that he is one of the most highly regarded members of the legal community," the statement read. "The NHLPA and our outside counsel were unaware of his past interaction with Alan Eagleson. Accordingly, we will now seek the NHLPA Executive Board's direction regarding the preparation of a second legal opinion."
In his findings published in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, McMurtry determined that the NHLPA had just cause to dismiss Kelly over what he described as a "serious breach of trust" when Kelly improperly obtained a full transcript of a confidential board meeting that excluded him. Due to the conflict of interest, the Players' Association will be forced to dismiss the findings.