Kelly denies accusations

Updated: September 3, 2009, 7:26 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

TORONTO -- Former NHL union leader Paul Kelly denies an accusation that he misused his office by reading a transcript of a private players' meeting.

"I cannot stand by and allow this false and misleading attack on my character and reputation," Kelly said in a statement released Thursday. "I spent almost 10 years as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting numerous cases pertaining to fraud and dishonesty, including one involving a former NHLPA executive director. My personal ethics and reputation are beyond reproach."

Paul Kelly
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesThe NHLPA announced Monday that its executive board had voted to remove executive director Paul Kelly. He held the job for less than two years.

Kelly, a former U.S. prosecutor in Massachusetts, was dismissed Monday at a meeting of the NHL Players Association executive board in Chicago. No reason has been given for his firing other than it came after a review of his leadership.

Kelly defended his conduct on the same day Glenn Healy resigned as director of player affairs. The move comes after Pat Flatley, assistant director of player affairs and a Kelly supporter, resigned earlier this week along with Bob Lundquist, a union accounting consultant.

Kelly was caught reading documents detailing a confidential June meeting between the union's advisory board and its 30-member player executive, ESPN.com reported Thursday.

The Globe and Mail first reported the story late Wednesday.

Shortly after the closed-door session in Las Vegas, sources told ESPN.com that some players came to Kelly and Healy to raise concerns about potential breaches of the NHLPA constitution and what they perceived as a concerted effort to push Kelly from office.

It was then that Kelly asked for and received a transcript from the portion of Las Vegas meetings he was excluded from.

At weekend meetings in Chicago, multiple sources said Kelly informed players at the start of Sunday's session that he had looked at the documents to find out what was going on within the union. After Kelly disclosed how he had obtained this information, Penny and interim ombudsman Buzz Hargrove told players what Kelly had done was a fireable offense.

The issue of privacy is a sensitive one for the union. Former executive director Ted Saskin was dismissed after allegations he monitored player e-mails.

"I take enormous pride and comfort knowing that I always acted in the best interests of the players, including taking affirmative actions required of me based on my obligations to the players and the NHLPA," Kelly said.

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