Monday, February 20, 2012

Paul Kelly Leaves College Hockey Inc.

News broke earlier on this holiday Monday that the Executive Director of College Hockey Inc., Paul Kelly, had resigned his position. The news broke on Twitter this afternoon and the stories started going up at various websites soon after.

Because of the Family Day WHL matinee at Rexall Place and then actual Family Day plans, with my family, I was unable to report or offer comment in a timely manner.

After the jump, several links to get caught up on the news and some thoughts of my own.

"Landing former National Hockey League Players Association head Paul Kelly as the first executive director of College Hockey Inc. back in November 2009 was quite a coup for the fledgling organization. And while his sudden resignation Monday was a surprise and the reasons unknown, it should be noted that in his 28 months at College Hockey Inc., Kelly lent instant legitimacy to the operation by giving college hockey a unified voice with a consistent message, not to mention the ability to bend the ears of the sport’s most influential leaders (Gary Bettman, for example). Coaches are thrilled with the inroads College Hockey Inc. has made on behalf of their programs over the last two-plus years; the work’s not done, but thanks to Kelly’s guidance, the framework for success is in place."

That summary from Inside College Hockey paints one picture. This from USCHO suggests something completely different.

I reached out to Mr. Kelly as soon as I'd read the first notification on Twitter. I asked if the report was true and wished him well if it was. I have not yet heard back from him but I did receive confirmation from College Hockey Inc. although with no details of what truly transpired.

If Kelly was given an ultimatum by the Hockey Commissioners Association then it will be very interesting to see how this unfolds and what direction College Hockey Inc. shifts, or rather, is steered.

Paul Kelly and his group were on the front line fighting the college hockey cause but didn't have the authority to enact the changes he and College Hockey Inc. discovered which would benefit NCAA hockey. I'm just speculating, because I haven't heard from anyone yet, but voicing ideas of change in regards to recruiting, potential eligibility for CHL players, switching from bird cages to visors, etc. are all suggestions made by Kelly and College Hockey Inc. over the last 28 months and none have come to fruition.

Perhaps the reports of Kelly seeking greater ability to invoke change stems from a frustration that nothing has changed. He's been crisscrossing North America holding information seminars and doing media, answering tough questions from both sides of the border on behalf of growing, expanding and bettering the college game. It appears that the NCAA, or at least the Hockey Commissioners Association, was no longer on board with either Kelly's version of their message or his way of delivering it.

College Hockey News wrote:
"The position was created to assist in marketing, and to educate the masses on the benefits of college hockey. However, the role is limited because the schools and conferences still have authority over most matters, which was a source of frustration for Kelly, sources indicate."
Adam Wodon from College Hockey News later wrote an editorial that echoed many of my own thoughts on the matter so I encourage you to give it a read.

Wodon's reference to the "NCAA machine" is quite apt. I think most people agree that changes need to happen for the benefit of college hockey both on and off the ice. That's not the true purpose for College Hockey Inc. though and I'm betting that the next Executive Director will often be heard using phrases like "That's not my department" to deflect criticisms or suggestions that come his/her way.

On a personal note, Paul Kelly was a frequent guest on The Pipeline Show and College Hockey Inc. remains a valued supporter of our program. I appreciate the correspondence and idea trading over the last two years, his enthusiastic welcome for me at the 2011 Frozen Four in Minnesota and the invitation to sit in on the College Hockey Inc. information session outside Edmonton in 2011.

1 comment:

Eric J. Burton said...

The more I read about this issue the more I think there is more to it, I also think that Kelly had some great ideas on how to improve college hockey. There are a lot of rules that need to change in college Hockey as well. The Bird Cage is one that I would immediately change. Letting CHL players play in the NCAA is another rule that I embrace.