In fact, this is good news. It follows last week's news that a four-player committee had been struck to investigate all the nonsense that has occurred at the NHLPA over the past six months, a sign the players were finally cluing into the fact they'd been effectively hoodwinked by a coup d'etat thinly disguised as the supposedly necessary departure of executive director Paul Kelly.
Penny overreached. Emboldened by the support of figures like departed union ombudsman Eric Lindros and advisory board member Ron Pink, not to mention current ombudsman Buzz Hargrove, Penny decided as general counsel he could not or would not work with Kelly, and was part of the group that actively sought Kelly's ouster.
Once he found himself crowned interim executive director, he discovered the way in which Kelly was dumped (at 4 a.m. in the morning) brought all kinds of grief to the union, and he was poorly equipped from a public relations standpoint to either rally the support of players or deal effectively with the media storm. Getting booted off a crucial conference call last week, with Sidney Crosby the final voice, effectively destroyed Penny's authority and legitimacy.
He had to go, and Hargrove and Pink should follow suit as soon as possible. Only then, with a clean slate, can the union start to rebuild. The next step will have to be a tweaking of the union's constitution, which is filled with so many checks and balances that it was inevitable that power struggles would result. The advisory board needs to go, and the ombudsman position needs to be redefined. The union cannot function going forward without changes to the structure.
Once all this happens, and the four-man committee is able to explain to their colleagues what exactly happened, two very good choices will be available to the NHLPA.
One, they could bring back Kelly. There is a remote scenario at best, but a plausible one. The union would not suffer public embarrassment if the players decided Kelly was unreasonably dealt with and deserved a second opportunity. It's just common sense that judging the man on how he performed while surrounded by people dedicated to undermining his authority was unfair, at best.
Second, Glenn Healy could be the next leader of the association. He knows the union inside out, and perhaps it's time that the players select one of their own to lead them. Healy's not a labor lawyer, but you can hire those people at a hourly fee.
There will be those who will suggest the union needs a brand new face, and that may be true. What's unfortunate is that in Kelly, Healy and Pat Flatley, the players had excellent people and good leaders, but were somehow convinced to push them all out the door.