Stajan defends decison to fire Kelly

 

Matt Stajan, Toronto's player representative to the National Hockey League Players' Association, was reportedly one of the most strident voices opposing former executive director Paul Kelly, who was fired on Aug. 31 in what could best be described as highly questionable circumstances.

 
 
 
 
 

Matt Stajan, Toronto's player representative to the National Hockey League Players' Association, was reportedly one of the most strident voices opposing former executive director Paul Kelly, who was fired on Aug. 31 in what could best be described as highly questionable circumstances.

Yesterday the controversy widened, as Sidney Crosby called for more information regarding the firing, following a statement on Thursday made by his powerful agent Pat Brisson and his partner J. P. Barry. It has also been reported that Chris Chelios, another player rep, is trying to talk other players into overturning the dismissal.

When asked about the possibility, Stajan was adamant the union had made the right move.

"You know what, I would strongly disagree that that's going to happen," he said. "We made a decision, and I don't think there's any turning back now. The proof's there, we had everything laid out in front of us, I'm fully confident we made the right decision ... at the end of the day, we're looking out for the best interests of 750 players, and in my opinion, a change needed to be [made]."

Stajan also defended the timing of the move, which occurred at the end of a 10-hour marathon meeting, with the 30-player executive committee voting at approximately 3:30 a. m. Some players have expressed a wish that the move had been brought to the wider membership with training camp mere days away.

"If we brought it back, we're just delaying it two months until we can all get on a conference call again," Stajan said. "And then, the media gets a hold of it and things kind of snowball and it gets worse. We make a decision there, and we move forward. The [collective bargaining agreement]'s up in three years, and we felt a change had to be made, overwhelmingly we felt that, and the longer we wait the worse it's going to be for our union. I don't know what else to say about this.

"It's not like [the executive committee is] just doing this to have a few beers and come up with something. We interviewed all the staff, and did what we had to do. Now that people are questioning this, I'm just disappointed that there are guys out there doing this. None of this is helping the union out ... if people really cared, this stuff wouldn't keep coming up."

Six days after being rushed to hospital, and three days after undergoing minor heart surgery, goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was back at training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday.

"I feel better and better," the 6-foot-3 Swede said. "It was good that it happened now, so I can be back on the ice as fast as possible. They said it would be no problem."

The surgery involved a catheter inserted through an incision in Gustavsson's groin to correct an irregularity in the electrical flow to the heart. Gustavsson said he is still a couple of days from returning to the ice.

"I'm going to tall to the doctor today, and do some biking tomorrow, and we'll see," the 24-year-old said. "[The incision] has to heal, and I'm just waiting for that to happen.

"Of course you get a little bit scared, but the doctors told me right away that it's no danger ... and we can fix it easy, so it's no problem."

barthur@nationalpost.com

 
 
 
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