Penny and NHL Players' Association part ways Staff

10/31/2009 12:42:21 AM

The drama continues to unfold at the National Hockey League Players' Association with news that interim executive director Ian Penny has parted ways with the organization.

While Penny resigned his position with the NHLPA on Friday, he believes he was effectively dismissed.

The NHLPA released a statement on Friday, explaining Penny's current status with regards to the association.

"Interim Executive Director Ian Penny informed the NHLPA staff and the NHLPA Executive Board earlier today that it is his position he has been constructively dismissed as Interim Executive Director of the NHLPA and can no longer work in the present circumstances. Effective today, Ian Penny is no longer employed by the NHLPA."

While Penny is out as interim executive director, the NHLPA will continue to operate, governed by the 30-member executive board.

Sources indicate Steve Larmer, Dan O'Neill and Ron Lloyd of the NHLPA's Advisory Board resigned Thursday night and legal counsel Paul Cavalluzzo resigned on Friday morning. O'Neill had been on a leave of absence from the Advisory Board since becoming involved with the Tampa Bay ownership group last spring. 

Last week, the NHLPA executive board voted 25-5 in favour of forming a committee to review union operations.

NHL veterans Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi along with former Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios were named to the committee.

Earlier this week, the committee sent out an e-mail to its members outlining their strategic plan.

''We have come through a period of considerable turmoil and dysfunction within the NHLPA,'' stated the e-mail obtained by TSN. ''It is our goal that everything we do now be focused on strengthening and unifying the Association as we move forward to ensure we are in a strong position to enter collective bargaining and conduct our day to day business with the NHL. This review will be conducted independently of those who have worked at the NHLPA during this embarrassing time for the Association.''

In addition to investigating why former executive director Paul Kelly was let go in August, the new four-man group is expected to look into how Penny was able to negotiate a five-year, $3.5 million contract in June.

In the e-mail, the roles of the advisory board and ombudsman were also constricted to allow the review committee to complete its work.

"The Advisory Board and Ombudsman have been instructed to limit their activities to those specifically set forth in the constitution of the Association and to avoid any contact with Association Staff or with individual Executive Board members until the work of the Review Committee is complete," the e-mail stated. "The Divisional Player Representatives have been asked not to incur any travel expenses until this review is complete. We have told the Advisory Board that, if they are needed during this process, they will be contacted by us or the Executive Board."

The committee also referenced an e-mail sent by Penny in which the now former interim executive director believes he was being “constructively dismissed.”

"Ian Penny's October 23, 2009 email requires a response. We will retain independent counsel and report back to the Executive Board on this issue. We did not expect this to become a review of operations issue until Ian sent the email alleging he was “constructively dismissed” for the reasons described in his memo. Since Ian's e-mail could create legal ramifications for the Association, we think it is appropriate to seek “independent” legal advice on this matter immediately."