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Adam Proteau Interviews Paul Kelly

THN’s Adam Proteau sat down with Paul Kelly to discuss the state of the NHL. Check out the parts of the interview here.

In early August, I sat down with NHL Players’ Association executive director Paul Kelly in his Toronto office for an hour-long conversation regarding his first year on the job.

Portions of that interview – including Kelly’s thoughts on European expansion, building unity amongst his constituents, potential labor unrest, and more – can be found in my Proteau Type column that appears in the Sept. 18th issue of The Hockey News magazine.

However, because there were more noteworthy aspects to the interview than could fit into the column, here are some additional highlights:

Let’s talk about the integration of European players into NHL upper management and coaching. Europeans account for 30 percent of the league’s players, yet there’s nowhere near the same representation off the ice. Is that a concern players speak to you about?

Paul Kelly:
I haven’t really given that issue a great deal of thought, and I haven’t studied it, but my sense is there’s probably a few reasons for that. First, a lot of European guys go back home when their playing days are over, and those who do go home, I think a number of them become scouts for NHL teams in their home countries.

But it may be a cultural thing; they want to play, and they don’t necessarily want to find themselves in positions of authority. That’s my sense, but I think we’ll see some improvement in that regard over time.

We would like to see more European players become actively involved in what we do at the union. We were very pleased recently in Rome, where we had our European player meetings. We had a great turnout, and many of the guys in the room were prominent European players who were very interested in the business.

But we’d like to have more European guys as player reps. Last year, the only European player rep we had was Jarkko Ruutu, and we’d like to see more of a reflection of that 30 percent. And I’d like to see more European players on some of the committees we have.

I like what he has to say about some non-hockey market teams. His honest assessment is a refreshing change.