Penny leaves NHLPA

The NHL Players Association said Friday that interim executive director Ian Penny has left his job, saying he could no longer work for the union.

The NHLPA, in a news release, said Penny "informed the NHLPA staff and the NHLPA Executive Board earlier [Friday] that it is his position he has been constructively dismissed as Interim Executive Director of the NHLPA and can no longer work in the present circumstances."

"Effective today, Ian Penny is no longer employed by the NHLPA," the union said.

The NHLPA also denied media reports that it had suspended operations.

"The NHLPA staff continues to work very hard on behalf of the players in all areas of the Association's business and will continue to do so going forward," the statement said.

A call to Penny was not immediately returned Friday.

A source told ESPN.com that Penny delivered a letter of resignation Friday. He had been battling for weeks with player representative Chris Chelios, as the players' union fell into disarray following the surprise firing of executive director Paul Kelly in late August.

Penny, the union's general counsel, wrote another letter last Friday to the union's executive board of 30 player reps, demanding that Chelios be excluded from any further involvement in the four-player review committee that was recently formed to investigate goings-on at the NHLPA.

Chelios is on the committee with Mark Recchi, Nicklas Lidstrom and Rob Blake. A call to Chelios, who is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, was not immediately returned Friday.

Penny first joined the NHLPA as staff counsel in 2000 before becoming general counsel in 2007. It is believed he was at odds with Kelly for much of the former executive director's tenure and was instrumental in Kelly's firing Aug. 31.

But in the wake of Kelly's dismissal, Chelios and other player reps and agents began to rise against Penny, as well as against ombudsman Buzz Hargrove, another key figure in the Kelly firing.

Outside counsel Paul Cavalluzzo also resigned Friday, and advisory board members Dan O'Neill, Steve Larmer and Ron Lloyd had stepped down Thursday night, sources told ESPN.com.

Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside cover the NHL for ESPN.com.