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Paul Kelly fights back, denies allegation of reading private material

TORONTO - Former NHLPA boss Paul Kelly has denied an allegation that he misused his office by reading a transcript of a private players' meeting.

"I cannot stand by and allow this false and misleading attack on my character and reputation," Kelly said in a statement released Thursday. "I spent almost 10 years as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting numerous cases pertaining to fraud and dishonesty, including one involving a former NHLPA executive director. My personal ethics and reputation are beyond reproach.

"All of these stories, whether anonymous or by those seeking to protect their individual interests, intend to defame my reputation and good name. They not only harm me, but do harm to the reputation of the over 700 hockey players who make our sport the best in the world."

Kelly, a former U.S. prosecutor in Massachusetts who helped bring Alan Eagleson to justice, was dismissed early Monday at a meeting of the NHLPA's player executive in Chicago. No reason has been given for his firing other than it came after a review of his leadership.

A report in a national newspaper on Thursday said Kelly was allegedly caught reading documents detailing a confidential meeting between the union's advisory board and its 30-member player executive last June.

The newspaper said a member of the player executive did not refute the charge when asked about whether that was part of the reason Kelly was dismissed, saying only the players had agreed to say nothing about the dismissal.

The issue of privacy in the association is a sensitive once. Former executive director Ted Saskin was dismissed after allegations he monitored player's private emails.

"I take enormous pride and comfort knowing that I always acted in the best interests of the players, including taking affirmative actions required of me based on my obligations to the players and the NHLPA," Kelly said in the statement. "Out of respect for the NHLPA and the players, I will have no further comment at this time regarding my departure. The matter is being discussed by my legal representatives and those of the NHLPA."

Meanwhile, another member of the NHLPA front office has resigned in the wake of Kelly's dismissal.

Glenn Healy stepped down as director of player affairs Thursday. His resignation comes after assistant director of player affairs and Kelly supporter Pat Flatley resigned earlier this week along with Bob Lundquist, a union accounting consultant.

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