Friday, October 30, 2009 Updated: October 31, 10:11 PM ET
Penny leaves NHLPA
By Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside ESPN.com
Should the NHLPA bring back former executive director Paul Kelly? It may sound strange, but it could be the most rational choice given the current state of affairs, writes Scott Burnside.
The NHL Players Association said Friday that interim executive director Ian Penny has left his job, saying he could no longer work for the union.
The NHLPA, in a news release, said Penny "informed the NHLPA staff and the NHLPA Executive Board earlier [Friday] that it is his position he has been constructively dismissed as Interim Executive Director of the NHLPA and can no longer work in the present circumstances."
"Effective today, Ian Penny is no longer employed by the NHLPA," the union said.
The NHLPA also denied media reports that it had suspended operations.
"The NHLPA staff continues to work very hard on behalf of the players in all areas of the Association's business and will continue to do so going forward," the statement said.
Ian Penny's Resignation Letter
Interim executive director Ian Penny resigned from his post Friday amidst rumors of internal strife. ESPN.com has obtained his resignation letter.
"It is with great regret that I am writing to let everyone know that after 9½ years at the NHLPA I will be leaving, effective at the end of today, because I have been constructively dismissed and can no longer work in the present environment. I want to commend the staff for their remarkable hard work, strength of character and dedication to the union during this difficult time. There can be no doubt that you will get through this, as you have in the past, and that you will continue to perform the truly excellent work you have consistently performed for the Players -- work that the Players should appreciate and be very proud of.
It has been an extraordinary honour and privilege to have worked with you. Although I regret having to leave, I leave knowing the union is in great hands.
In solidarity, Ian."
A call to Penny was not immediately returned Friday.
A source told ESPN.com that Penny delivered a letter of resignation Friday. He had been battling for weeks with player representative Chris Chelios, as the players' union fell into disarray following the surprise firing of executive director Paul Kelly in late August.
Penny, the union's general counsel, wrote another letter last Friday to the union's executive board of 30 player reps, demanding that Chelios be excluded from any further involvement in the four-player review committee that was recently formed to investigate goings-on at the NHLPA.
Chelios is on the committee with Mark Recchi, Nicklas Lidstrom and Rob Blake. A call to Chelios, who is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, was not immediately returned Friday.
Penny first joined the NHLPA as staff counsel in 2000 before becoming general counsel in 2007. It is believed he was at odds with Kelly for much of the former executive director's tenure and was instrumental in Kelly's firing Aug. 31.
But in the wake of Kelly's dismissal, Chelios and other player reps and agents began to rise against Penny, as well as against ombudsman Buzz Hargrove, another key figure in the Kelly firing.
Outside counsel Paul Cavalluzzo also resigned Friday, and advisory board members Dan O'Neill, Steve Larmer and Ron Lloyd had stepped down Thursday night, sources told ESPN.com.
Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside cover the NHL for ESPN.com.