In what came as a shocking announcement yesterday, Paul Kelly abruptly announced that he was resigning as the head of College Hockey Inc.. Details of the resignation slowly emerged, in that Kelly was given an ultimatum by his bosses, the Hockey Commissioners Association, to either resign or be fired. The reasons for the split have only been rumored, but all signs point to the issue being a distrust between the commissioners and Kelly, and for Kelly trying to do more than what the commissioners wanted, because it would have limited their power.
It's hard to imagine Kelly finding a more foolish and incompetent group than the circa-2009 NHL Players Union, but he did in the Hockey Commissioners Association. In hindsight, Kelly's tenure seemed doomed from the start. He was brought in by the commissioners to do a job selling the sport that the commissioners were either too lazy or too stupid to do. He was brought in to change the status quo, by a group of people who thought the status quo was working out just fine for them. And that is college hockey's biggest problem: the people in charge of the sport have done a tremendous job convincing themselves how important they are, but a terrible job of convincing anyone else of that fact.
Not to mention that Kelly was handcuffed in how he could sell the sport much of this summer due to college hockey's realignment. Unfortunately, he didn't have the ability to walk away from Bruce McLeod's incompetence and do his own thing the same way that 75% of the teams in Bruce McLeod's league did. Still, Kelly made significant gains in terms of the visibility of college hockey, especially north of the border, and probably did more in two years than the rest of college hockey's leadership had ever done prior to his tenure.
And now, all of the work done by Kelly is basically discredited and undone. Headlines were already going up around Canadian hockey circles yesterday that "Kelly Told to Either Resign or Be Fired". It completely ruined a noble initiative in College Hockey Inc. over a petty power squabble. The commissioner's have said they will rehire someone to run the operation, though the position will likely be different--read: toothless--in nature. I can't imagine who would be foolish enough to take that gig.