NHLPA names Ian Penny as Interim Exec. Director Staff

8/31/2009 7:06:40 PM

Ian Penny has been unanimously named as Interim Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players' Association.

He had previously held the role of General Counsel for the union.

Sources tell TSN Penny is not interested in the position on a fulltime basis and only took the title in order to give the NHLPA a point person during the coming days.

The move came after the 30 player representatives voted to fire Paul Kelly early on Monday morning at their meetings in Chicago.

NHLPA Ombudsman Buzz Hargrove told the TEAM 1040 radio station in Vancouver that the union didn't have faith that Kelly was the right man to lead them in their next contract negotiations with the NHL in 2011.

"They didn't want to wait until it was too late," Hargrove said. "If we waited until next year, you're almost on the doorstep of the opening of negotiations and they didn't want then to be caught with someone they didn't really think was able to unify and pull the group together and get them all working together. 'Trust and confidence' were the words they used and I think that's used appropriately."

NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly released the following statement on Monday afternoon.

"We do not believe it is appropriate for the League to comment extensively on the news coming out of the players' Executive Board meeting in Chicago over the last 24 hours. It is an internal Union matter, and its not our role or place to be passing judgment, especially when we don't know all the facts. We obviously have a longstanding relationship with Ian Penny and we are committed to working with him, both during this interim period and beyond, for the betterment of the game for the benefit of all of the game's stakeholders, including most importantly, for our fans. As for Paul Kelly, we wish him the very best in whatever challenge he next chooses to pursue. He is a very talented professional who was totally committed to representing the players' interests for the purpose of, and in the context of, growing and promoting a sport that he loved."

Penny has worked as staff counsel with the NHLPA since 2000, and was promoted to his present position in 2007. The report states that Kelly had been at odds with Penny as well as with other key members of the NHLPA.

When asked if the NHLPA had any leads with regards to filling the Executive Director job, Hargrove said that there were no candidates.

"There's no names in the hopper at this point, Hargrove told the TEAM. "I talked to almost all the players before they left at noon today and no one had a suggestion. They really are saying that we need to do a search and we have to reach out outside of the organization, unless somebody surfaces that we haven't yet identified."

Kelly was named the fourth executive director in NHLPA history in October of 2007. A search for his replacement will begin immediately.

The former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts was involved in the investigation of former NHLPA leader Alan Eagleson and was chosen to replace Ted Saskin, who was fired amid allegations he ordered the spying of NHLPA player e-mail related to his initial hiring.