November 22, 2009 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Paul Kelly Named to Lead College Hockey Group

CHN Staff Report

Paul Kelly, the recently-ousted former head of the NHL Players Association, will be named the first Executive Director of College Hockey, Inc., according to various reports.

A press conference has been scheduled for Boston on Tuesday to officially announce the move.

College Hockey, Inc. is the creation of the Commissioner's Association, the group comprised of the commissioners of each of the six Division I men's ice hockey conferences. The intention is to create a full-time office that can devote its time to promoting the game.

“Not only do I love the challenge, but I love the idea that I get to build this initiative from the ground up. I knew I wanted to remain in hockey in a meaningful way," Kelly, a former Boston-area lawyer, told the Boston Globe.

“I suppose I could have gone back to law, be that with a big firm or just hang my own shingle and start taking cases. But I love the game, and after getting a taste of it with the PA job, it wasn’t something that I wanted to give up. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity.’’

The focus for Kelly, clearly, is on marketing the game. There are age-old issues involved with trying to out-recruit Canadian Major Junior leagues for players. A player that goes the major junior route at age 14 or 15, loses his eligibility for the NCAA before college teams ever have a chance to recruit him; 16 years old is the earliest a college coach can contact players. With more American players going the major junior route than ever before, the battles have intensified.

Kelly first met with the commissioners just after being named head of the NHLPA, as the two sides looked for ways to work together to improve the sport. They met, for instance, at the 2008 Frozen Four in Denver. For years, the commissioners have been meeting with NHL representatives as well, including commissioner Gary Bettman.

The NHLPA has yet to name a replacement since removing Kelly on August 31, a widely-derided move that has left the players leaderless.

“All the Division I commissioners are thrilled to have Paul aboard,’’ Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna told the Globe. “He brings credibility, skill, contacts, and personality to what we believe is a vital position.’’

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