Thursday, 10 May 2007

My Kingdom For An Email

Ted Saskin has now joined the unemployment line. Officially. The NHLPA officially fired Ted Saskin today, nearly two months after he was sent home on paid leave. The man who took over for Bob Goodenow is now looking for work much like his predecessor. The future of Ken Kim, another NHLPA employee wrapped up in this saga, is still unresolved. However, the vote conducted by the NHLPA's executive board today sealed the fate of the man who was instrumental in the negotiation of the current CBA and salary cap.

According to the Canadian Press, "[t]he vote was conducted on a conference call today, in the wake of a report from the NHLPA's independent legal counsel Chris Paliare that indicated Saskin ordered the surveillance of internal e-mail accounts, a move that was reportedly conducted and executed by Kim".

Now, I'm no legal expert or a lawyer, but that seems a little shady, doesn't it? Never-the-less, there were other problems surrounding Saskin.

"The turmoil within the union began in the first place when Saskin replaced Bob Goodenow on July 28, 2005, without other candidates being interviewed for the job. That sparked dissension from Chelios, former executive committee member Trent Klatt and former NHLPA executive Steve Larmer".

Saskin was quick to respond to the firing, putting on a brave face.

"All I am going to say at this time is that I remain proud of all the work I did for NHL players over the last 16 years and particularly in negotiating the new CBA which has been working out well," Saskin told The Canadian Press in an e-mail. "I will work towards a fair resolution of my contractual rights with the NHLPA and wish them well in the future."

Saskin was in year two of a five-year contract worth a reported $10 million.

Kevyn Adams, player representative for the Phoenix Coyotes and long-time Saskin supporter, voted against keeping Saskin as a show of solidarity for the NHLPA.

"I just think with the report we saw from Chris Paliare there were things going on that just should not have been going on," said Adams, a member of the interim executive committee. "But I also think just as importantly, we've been though a lot, there's been so much uncertainty, we need to get some stability and move forward.

"We need to get on the same page. Hopefully we can move ahead together as a group after today."

Hopefully, they can. I'm not saying Saskin shouldn't have been appointed NHLPA executive director. That's not for me to decide. The man had been with the NHLPA since 1992, and was instrumental in increasing the revenue for the NHLPA through licensing. He was senior director and Bob Goodenow's right-hand man before replacing him.

However, the email problem is a huge one, though. Privacy laws have become increasingly stringent over the last few years in both Canada and the United States, and this is a clear violation of privacy. I honestly believe that Ken Kim should join Ted Saskin in searching for work, but I'm not the judge. Personally, if anyone were to monitor my personal email, I'd be annoyed. In fact, I'd be downright angry.

In any case, the NHLPA is moving forward, and this is good news. As good as Saskin was for working with the NHL, the NHLPA needs someone who can seamlessly move into the role of executive director and continue the growth of the sport. Hockey is still recovering from the black eye it received during the lockout, so finding the right man to help promote the game and its athletes is paramount. And that has to happen sooner rather than later in order to get the game back in the limelight.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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