“We have had numerous discussions with our clients and other players around the league regarding the dismissal of Paul Kelly as executive director of the NHLPA,” agents J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson of CAA Sports said in a statement.

“Some of the things we have learned about the process are very troubling to us. We are encouraging each of our clients to educate themselves with union matters so they can understand how these types of decisions are reached. We believe that a strong and unified voice is necessary. In order for that to happen, the majority of players must be heard.”

Those comments were echoed by Sidney Crosby, which led to speculation yesterday that the NHLPA continues to operate amid confusion and that the potential for a rift among the membership is growing.

“I definitely want to know how things happened,” Crosby told ESPN. “I am part of the union like every other player and I think we all deserve a good explanation.”

The board’s decision came out of a 4 a.m. vote via secret ballot, something that sparked criticism over a lack of communication with the rest of the membership.

The decision was arrived at after the 30-member board voted 22-5 to dismiss Kelly. But the start of the ouster came when an “office review” was ordered in the fall of 2008, and discussed further by the board during June meetings.

Stajan reacted strongly to the dissent from CAA Sports, and suggestions from board member and Red Wing Chris Chelios that players in Detroit were “upset with how quickly it happened in one meeting and that they didn’t have a say in it.”

Stajan said it was incumbent on players to “take responsibility” in learning about the process from the 30 reps. Stajan said the Leafs players were “on board” with the process and the decision.

“You’re a player rep and the players are relying on their reps to do their job,” Stajan said. “If we could have all 750 players there, great, but that’s hard to do. We felt a change was needed and we made it.

“You had a leader (Kelly) who came under an office review,” Stajan added. “There was proof there (the office) was not functioning well, and that’s on the leader. In any business, that’s what can happen in situations like that (reviews). I don’t know why anything else is coming out now, some guys are speculating, but that’s what we decided and it was unanimous.”

Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek, who was a player rep in Montreal, refused to comment yesterday other than to say the issues will be dealt with in a union conference call (believed to be Sept. 28).

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