Less than two months ago, the NHL Players Association fired executive director Paul Kelly. The union said its executive board (made up of one player from each team) had voted “overwhelmingly” to oust Kelly. The SportsBusiness Daily reported Wednesday that the players association is now calling for an investigation into Kelly’s firing.
The call to action has been spearheaded by NHL legend Chris Chelios, who finally received enough votes to call for an investigation Wednesday. According to the NHLPA constitution, there has to be a minimum of 25 votes cast and at least 20 for the issue to pass. When the vote took place Sunday, there weren’t enough votes, but, the constitution gives players who did not vote 72 hours to do so. The final vote came in 25 in favor of investigation to five not in favor.
After Kelly’s firing, there was a lack of clear explanation for why Kelly was removed. Edmonton Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff, one of the 30 on the executive board said “Until we’re able to inform all the players on exactly what happened, we’re really not going to be too specific.”
More vague talk came from interim executive director Buzz Hargrove. “Given the findings that were presented to them, given the debate, they took a decision. It's a decision they will feel very comfortable justifying with their fellow players once they see them in training camp.”
These type of explanations are what caused players like Chelios, Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi will likely make up the investigating committee. But, if Chelios heads the committee, there is concern that his findings could lose credibility. The players could choose to hire an independent investigator.
This investigation could have major implications as the NHLPA prepares itself for new collective bargaining negotiations in 2011.
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Matthew Coller is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network. He can be followed on Twitter
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