November 12, 2009

Kelly still right man for job

Paul Kelly (Newton Highlands, Mass.) should be reinstated as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association. That is because he is the best man available for the job.

And he is better than anybody that the bumbling union could possibly sign on for more millions of dollars. The resignation en masse of the anti-Kelly bloc underlines an important point.

The plot to oust Kelly has been exposed. Unfortunately, his illegal ouster took place before the plotters resigned from their assorted NHLPA posts. That includes Ron Pink and Ian Penny. Finally, on Sunday, Buzz Hargrove, the so-called ombudsman, also resigned from the NHLPA.

Even though Don Fehr has been brought aboard as a consultant to the NHLPA, that should not mean that Kelly cannot be reinstated. That is unless Fehr is stupid, jealous or influenced by Penny; which we fear.

Observations

* Brian Leetch (Cheshire, Conn.) on what it means to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame: “It’s hard to put into words what it means, it’s such an overwhelming feeling.

“I always looked up to Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Guy Lafleur. Guys you look up to – that’s the Hall of Fame. And then you’re lucky in your career to have played with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Marcel Dionne. I picture all those players belonging here and it feels like there should be a separate wing that I should be in, a visitors’ wing. But to have “Hall of Fame” attached to your name is an amazing thing.

Gossip

* Whatever happens to their respective teams – Montreal and Ottawa – GMs Bob Gainey and Bryan Murray are safe for the duration of the season.

Despite the Dany Heatley fiasco, Murray has owner Eugene Melnyk in his corner. Barring another Ottawa debacle, Melnyk will stick with his man.

Gainey’s story is somewhat different. Under heavy fire from Montreal Gazette columnist Jack Todd, the Habs GM will weather 2009-10. But new ownership will not be as loyal to him as predecessor George Gillet, who swore by Bob.

* Count Ron Wilson (Riverside, R.I.)among those endorsing a ban on headshots. “You should not be allowed to target the head,” says the Maple Leafs coach. “That’s not a clean hit.”

While such hits are legal by NHL rules, Wilson asserts, “We have to fix that.”

* Is there cause for concern in Detroit? You bet there is. After losing Marian Hossa to free agency, and players Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula to injury, Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano has his doubts.

“We're going to have to fight just to make the playoffs and it's going to be a grind," says Devellano. "Getting home ice would be a miracle.”

* Vesa Toskala and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are winless so far, yet rumors continue to circulate that GM Brian Burke (Providence, R.I.) may be looking to swap Toskala for Giguere, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with Anaheim.

* Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood posted his 50th career shutout with a recent 2-0 win over Boston. Still, the veteran goaltender doesn’t think it’s that big a deal.

“I don’t put much merit in shutouts,” insists Osgood.

And why doesn’t the three-time Stanley Cup winner care about shutouts? “I grew up watching Grant Fuhr and all he cared about was winning the game. That’s always been my mindset. I don’t care about the score.”

Osgood will have something to celebrate in the near future as he moves in on 400 career wins.

Stan Fischler can be reached at fischlersp@gmail.com.