WILMINGTON, Mass. — After a handful of Boston Bruins players went through an informal skate this morning at Ristuccia Arena and Andrew Ference updated us on his recovery from groin surgery, he then addressed the issue of the firing of Paul Kelly as the Executive Director of the NHLPA.
Ference, one of Boston’s most open players, respectfully declined to reveal the specific reasons for the move because he and his fellow union reps are in the midst of informing the rest of the players. But he did shed some light on the subject. Here are Ference’s post-practice comments:
“That’s one of the misconceptions (that the move is about a new union militancy) and I understand that people who are writing about this situation want to draw their own conclusions about what happened, what transpired. There’s a lot of information coming out from certain people which is just false. Really, the guys in that room (in Chicago) know the whole story, like myself, who talked to everybody and know all the reasons why it happened, amongst the leadership, right from the top, right to the bottom. There’s a greater story.
“The firing had nothing to do with him being cozy with (commissioner Gary) Bettman or him being proactive in working toward a solution or anything like that. That’s something that obviously was valuable. That was one of his great assets to us, is that he did have a good relationship and was working toward … that’s part of the reason we gave him the job in the first place.”
Ference explained that by the time the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2010-11 season, he’ll be among around 40 percent of players who went through the lockout and that group knows that “that solution wasn’t the best road.”
When asked if the firing had anything to do with the NHLPA vote that allowed the salary cap to increase, Ference said that it was the same 30 guys who were pro-escalation that also voted to remove Kelly. Ference was part of a four-man committee, with Mike Komisarek, Matt Stajan and Brad Boyes, that spent part of the summer interviewing people in the NHLPA office to get to the bottom of the situation.
“It’s not about petty little things. It’s not about personal agendas. That’s another thing — people speculating about a hardliner like ‘Buzz‘ Hargrove (forcing the move) and you read a lot of that stuff. You read a lot about (former ombudsman) Eric Lindros, which is the most ridiculous thing. He’s so far removed from any of the daily business of the PA. He was ombudsman, and that’s true. And he had his issues with Paul Kelly, and that’s true. But you have to trust me when I say he has absolutely no say in the PA right now. None. And that’s just the reality of it.
“So there’s a lot of speculation going on out there, and that’s understandable when you’re not getting the whole story.”
“Obviously, when you go into Vegas (for the PA meetings in June) and you hear certain things about the health of the office and about how things are going, and about questions of the leadership that’s going on, and it gets to the point where you have to put a committee of four guys together to spend a week of their summer going to interview an entire office staff and putting their time in, that signals there’s underlying issues going on. What we came out of that with was some big issues.
“And there was also a report from our ombudsman about things that transpired that definitely put our feelings over the top. Big issues and definitely things that we couldn’t live with in our union.”
Stay tuned as the real story will undoubtedly come to the surface over the next couple days.
And Ference noted that he expects the selection process for a replacement will take three to five months and that unlike the process that resulted in the hiring of Kelly, the NHLPA will have a “very reputable advisory board” assisting with the decision.