Paul Kelly, contacted today by the Globe in regard to comments made by Boston defenseman Andrew Ference to Globe reporter Fluto Shinzawa that ran in today’s editions and online, still won’t comment publicly about anything related to his dismissal some three weeks ago as the executive director of the NHL Players’ Association.
However, Kelly’s attorney, H. James Hartley, this afternoon released a statement that came as a result of Ference’s printed comments.
”Unfortunately, due to confidentiality restraints,” wrote Hartley, ”Paul Kelly continues to be limited in what he can say publicly. ”Unlike others, he continues to play by the rules.”
”We have heard many after the fact public rationales for Paul’s 3:30 a.m. termination. In employment, as with many areas of life, continuous shifting of rationales and throwing things against the wall hoping one might stick is a classic tactic of those seeking to hide their real motives.
”Paul’s long and accomplished career, and his history with the game of hockey, were instrumental to his hiring following a vote by the 740 members of the Players’ Association and served the players extremelly well. An objective and bona fide review of the facts by neutral parties would shine light on what really happened and why.”
Hartley’s comment regarding the voting process is the most significant and damning toward Ference, a member of the union’s executive council that on Aug. 31 voted 22-5 in favor of canning Kelly. Ference, as reported this morning, made it sound as if Kelly were hired by only five PA members, then used that depiction as a means to mitigate criticism, by former NHL players and media outlets, that the executive council failed to poll the players when it came time to vote on Kelly’s firing.
”Guys that say, ‘Oh, you need to have everybody vote on something that big,’ well, we had five guys voting on hiring [Kelly],” Ference told Shinzawa. ”I didn’t hear too many guys complaining about the process of hiring him. We didn’t have 740 guys vote on that.”
Point in fact, Kelly’s election, just less than two years prior to his being fired, came as a result of a vote offered to all members of the PA. In that election, each club’s player representative was asked to poll the PA members on his club, asking if they would confirm a recommendation from within the PA to hire Kelly. By majority rule among the players, each of the league’s 30 clubs voted Kelly into office.
As of today, there are no plans in place for a review, as suggested in Hartley’s statement, of the facts leading up to Kelly’s dismissal, which came as a result of 27 players casting their votes in the wee hours of Aug. 31. However, current and retired players continue to grouse, not only about the firing itself, but the process.
”Obviously, some guys are a little louder than others when they give comments,” Ference said in today’s Globe, ”and they get more play. But guys are very comfortable with the decision that we made. We did the right thing. It doesn’t make me feel any different from the moment that we had the meetings.”
Ex-Bruin Brad Park, the Hall of Fame defenseman, is decidedly not on Ference’s side. A bold supporter of Kelly’s, in part because it was Kelly who recently forced a court remedy in Canada to secure millions of dollars in pension money for the widows of players who were in the league prior to 1985, Park today contacted the Globe to voice his displeasure with Kelly’s firing in general and with Ference in particular.
”Let me tell Andrew Ference, one defenseman to another, he should spend more time worrying about going to back to get the puck than to worry about Paul Kelly’s ability to do the job as head of the PA, said Park, who turned 61 years old in July. ”When [Ference] was in junior, I assume he wasn’t going to college…so I ask, what makes him so [expletive] smart?! They had a guy like Chris Chelios in that room [in Chicago] who disagreed, told them to wait and think.
”Maybe guys like Ference should take time to listen to guys who are older and smarter.”