Ever since the hiring of NHLPA boss Paul Kelley there have been more and more signs that the "partnership" that the NHL/NHLPA has enjoyed since the 2004 lockout is starting to deteriorate.
The latest example being Paul Kelly's public statements regarding the NHL's announcement regarding the two European games the league plans to open its season with next year. Here are some of Kelleys comments:
"The NHL put the cart before the horse."
"If they want the Players' Association to be a true business partner, then they have to include us in discussions about these matters at the earliest stages," Kelly said. "We shouldn't read about it in the press and we shouldn't find about it after the fact."
Kelly said he was approached by league officials Friday night and asked to sign off on the European games, which would mark the second straight year the NHL has opened its season on the other side of the Atlantic.
His response: "Look guys, you know we have a lot of details to work out. Travel, promotional issues, NHLPA involvement, accommodations, the schedule, etc. So there's still lots of details to work out, but if you want to announce it generally, that's fine."
Here was deputy commissioner Bill Daley's response:
"There seems to have been a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line," deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "We felt the PA had specifically authorized today's announcement. We'll address it directly with Paul and try to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The more and more I read about Paul Kelly the more and more I feel this league is returning to the "old days" in which the NHL and NHLPA work against each other instead of the for each other which resulted in some dark days for the league.
When I read these kinds of statements from Paul Kelly the first thought that comes to mind is Bob Goodenow, the former confrontational NHLPA commissioner. I know Kelly has a job of representing the best interests of the players but is it really necessary to go public with these kinds of statements? No its not. It makes the league look disorganized, conflicted and Mickey Mouse -- all this during a weekend when the game and is stars are supposed to be showcased.
This is procedural stuff. This could be resolved with a phone call. Its a transparent attempt to pick a fight and make a needless statement. That's all this is.
The more and more this relationship continues to deteriorate the less optimistic I become regarding there being extended labor peace in this league.
For fans who could care less about the business stuff and just want to see games....all this means is that when this CBA expires in 2011 we could be looking at another work stoppage.
Lets hope both sides are smarter than this and don't let their relationships return to the dark days. I really don't know if this league could take another work stoppage so soon.
I guess this is what we get for letting a guy like Chris Chelios pick the union's leader.