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Kelly relieved of Executive Director duties by NHLPA

08.31.09 at 10:47 am ET

Boston native Paul Kelly’s highly successful two-year run as the Executive Director of the NHL Players Association came to a stunning close early Monday morning when the NHLPA Executive Board “overwhelmingly” voted to relieve Kelly of his executive duties.

The news was first reported by directly after Kelly was informed of the decision at roughly 3:30 a.m. in Chicago after waiting all day while the NHLPA’s Executive Board met about Kelly’s leadership. The Executive Board deliberated for nearly 10 hours while Kelly waited outside the meeting room with staunch union supporters like Glenn Healy and Pat Flatley.

Flatley reportedly resigned from his NHLPA position immediately following Kelly’s dismissal. 

No reason was given for Kelly’s removal, and the NHLPA did release a statement on Friday morning. The board said they would immediately form a search committee to identify and interview new candidates. The NHLPA Executive Board consists of player representatives from each of the 30 NHL teams, and those reps made the Friday morning announcement at their annual meetings in Chicago. 

The NHLPA released a statement addressing the firing: “Following the Executive Board’€™s review of the overall operation of the NHLPA, it was decided that Paul Kelly should no longer continue to serve as Executive Director. We appreciate Mr. Kelly’€™s service to our Association.”

Kelly was hired on Oct. 24, 2007 and came into the position discussing the “exciting and prosperous” new era of the NHL and the NHL Players Association as the organization’s fourth Executive Director. Kelly was a very successful trial lawyer in Massachusetts and spearheaded the five-year trial and prosecution of former NHLPA Executive Director Alan Eagleson on racketeering and fraud charges.

That role raised Kelly ‘s stature within the NHLPA’s decision-making body, and ushered in the Boston native to replace former Executive Director Ted Saskin when he was ousted in 2007.

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