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NHLPA fires executive director Paul Kelly

Darren Dreger

8/31/2009 8:22:34 AM

Paul Kelly has been fired as executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The decision was made by the NHLPA's executive board, made up of 30 NHL player representatives following several hours of meetings in Chicago.

Kelly spent much of Sunday night waiting in a corridor outside the boardroom while the executive board deliberated, twice inviting interim ombudsman, Buzz Hargrove in to the discussions before a final vote and decision was made.

Kelly was invited back into the board meeting along with general counsel Ian Penny where he learned his fate.

Entering the meetings Kelly's demise was highly speculated based on the belief a number of players and watchdog PA staff had grown weary with his direction, sources claiming Kelly didn't do a good enough job getting to know the players. 

It was also suggested Kelly's relationship with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly was perceived by some as being too close.

With many changes inside the association including a revamped constitution, a newly formed executive board, and ombudsman role and advisory board, those remaining will say growing pains inside the association took their toll and Paul Kelly's demise is the latest example of the PA's ongoing internal struggle.

NHLPA Assistant Director of player affairs Pat Flatley resigned, and said he did so minutes after Kelly was dismissed.

Another source inside yesterday's meeting described it as a "crucifixion."