A little while ago, some fool mused on the firing of NHL Players' Association Director Paul Kelly and the possible impact it would have on a lockout/strike after the 2010-11 season. At the time, I mused that League General Counsel (and interim Director) Ian Penny, union ombudsman Buzz Hargrove and former ombudsman Eric Lindros "should be given a short leash to work with," but if you had odds on what happened next, you'd be a rich man. More after the jump.
The biggest events by far would be Penny's resignation. Mirtle has posted the text of Penny's letter sent shortly before his dismissal, which I encourage everyone to read. Not only does it burn any possible bridge of reconciliation, but it salts the earth afterwards. The biggest culprit thrown under the bus would have to be Chris Chelios, one of four members of the Union's review committee which was put together to find out more about Kelly's firing and to serve as a housecleaning measure of sorts (Rob Blake, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi are the others). Now, Kelly's dismissal was something that stuck in the craw of a few union members more for the way it was done than anything else, but it appears that Chelios was most offended by this, and appears to be waging a vendetta against those responsible for it. Penny was part of the Hargrove/Lindros camp that felt that Kelly's methods were unconventional and possibly damaging to the union. Frankly, if informally communicating to management could benefit the union in future labor negotiations, why anyone would object to the tactic is beyond me, but maybe that's naivete on my part.
Along with Penny's dismissal, Steve Larmer, former teammate of Chelios in Chicago, who served as one of the members of the Advisory Board resigned on Friday, citing the "long-term damage" that Chelios and the committee were doing to the union based on their current practices. He was not the only one; when turning in his resignation, advirosry board chairman Ron Pink questioned the constitutionality of what the committee was doing. Three other board members (Dan O'Neill, Ron Lloyd and Ian Troop) also stepped down from the board.
But the most important message in the wave of resignations may come from advisory board member (and former union VP and New York Islander) Ken Baumgartner, who tendered his resignation. His message was more passionate to the union members, whose continued apathy is both offensive and tragic. "The strength of the union lies in your locker rooms..." is something simple that the union can follow, yet continue not to adhere to. One can question Chelios' actions and intentions, but when union meetings need to suspended due to lack of a quorum, especially in light of recent events, having a 47-year old AHL player as the guy running the show for the Union might be what the Union deserves most of all right now.