The NHL Players' Association officially nominated former assistant U.S. attorney Paul Kelly on Monday night for its executive director position.
The unanimous nomination was made during a conference call with the union's 30 player representatives, who will conduct a secret ballot vote during the next week. A majority vote is required for Kelly to be elected.
The five-player search committee, consisting of Eric Lindros, Chris Chelios, Mike Cammalleri, Shawn Horcoff and Robyn Regehr, got help from Chicago search firm Reilly Partners and interviewed a long list of candidates before narrowing it to three. NFL Players Association lawyer Richard Berthelsen, and Bill Gregson, president and CEO of sports store chain Forzani Group, were the other finalists with Kelly.
Kelly is a partner at Kelly, Libby & Hoopes, a Boston law firm that specializes in internal investigations and complex civil and administrative litigation. He previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, and was involved in the investigation of former NHLPA leader Alan Eagleson.
Kelly was also Marty McSorley's lawyer when the former NHL defenceman was charged for his assault on former Vancouver Canucks tough guy Donald Brashear.
"We've got a way to see what happens, but he's been recommended," Chelios said Monday night in Anaheim after Detroit's 6-3 loss. "Obviously the word's out, so it just remains to be seen what the board thinks and what the players think, and we'll go from there."
Ted Saskin was fired as executive director union last May amid allegations he ordered the spying of NHLPA player e-mail in the midst of a player uprising that challenged how he took over for Bob Goodenow after the NHL lockout in 2005.
"A lot of it had to do with where we are now," Chelios said. "We'll discuss it at length with the players and inform them about why we came to this decision. And we all believe we made the right decision.
"He obviously knows the law, and he's been in pressure situations, legal situations, and we're stuck with the [collective bargaining agreement] for the next two years at least — maybe five — and I think we have to learn the CBA first, and then make sure that everybody's held accountable for that. And if anybody tries to cheat now or do anything wrong, we've got the right guy now."