Monday, September 12, 2005

 

The Saskin Story Continues

Well it is truly getting crazy in PA land.

There is a problem here, and not a small one, but I think we need to sit back and grab some perspective.

Great leaders become so by how they react to adversity. Ted has a golden opportunity here to unite a group that has been divided for years.

Hockey players are incredible people. And all this turmoil really doesn't matter to them right now. They want to play. They, by a wide majority, wanted Ted. They appreciate the work he put in to get this season on ice. If you ask them, like I did to a head coach recently, they will likely say, “Whatever..they got the right guy.”

Does this mean that Ted and Trevor did this the right way? Not at all. It is frustrating to all involved to see how they handled it. A respected agent said to me, “Given the history of distrust to the position, certain people are waiting for mistakes. They found some and they are jumping on it.”

Does this mean the PA is in turmoil? Not at all. The PA is reporting to training camp. They are all saying the same thing to me at least, “We wish it had been handled differently, but Ted will do a great job. He is our guy”

Talking to a source at the PA late last night there are serious concerns about the internal emails being leaked to the press. The belief among several sources was that the emails are being leaked by someone within the executive committee.

“He is still a member of the executive committee last we checked. He goes around saying that what we did was wrong, and at the same time he goes and releases internal emails to the press? How can we work with the guy? How can we trust sending him anything right now? I view it as a desperate attempt to keep this controversy alive. These emails came out just when this was about to die on the vine. The player reps are calling in saying 'what the hell?'”

There are some fascinating rumors circulating surrounding this. One says that Linden is trying to get another conference call together to address the internal leaks with the player reps, and stop the leaks.

The other is that a suit has already been file.

The moment I heard that rumor, I went back to some player reps that I had talked to who said that during the conference call the disgruntled group had told the reps that they were dropping the case and moving on. One rep I talked to was very upset about this, claiming, “he gave his word.”

I have yet to have a player say to me that they thought Ted shouldn't be the guy in the job. I have had many say that they wish it had happened differently. Some do feel that he should step back and allow a search. Make a statement to the effect of, “Due to the fact that concerns have arisen, I will allow a search for my position to be performed, I will act as the guy for now, and will throw my hat in the ring of course.”

One respected agent said to me, “In doing this he would regain control immediately and squelch this group. Take away all their ammo, and get the job he deserves.”

The PA source didn't appear to expect this to happen. “If Ted did that it would be giving credence to a very small vocal group of out-of-work players led by opportunity seeking agents. The vast majority of players are fine with him and realize his 15 years at the PA and the tireless work he did to get here are what matters.”

The fact is the PA is damaged right now by far more than this controversy. The players will let this blow over, but the agents, not just a few, are notably concerned about the lasting effects. And they are waiting for Ted to make his move and lead. I believe and hope that he will. I think Trevor and Ted have done some things less than perfect, but it can be fixed. I don't believe for a second it was done for greed or as any sort of blind ambition. It was done quickly so that the PA could put the past behind them and move on. The conference call was put together so that big business would know the PA now has a stable and respected leader that can work with the NHL.

And after what hockey went through, that is no small potatoes.

The relationship that Daly and Saskin have is the kind of relationship needed right now. They work together extremely well, and are both motivated to find ways to grow the sport in creative ways. And that is UNBELIEVABLY VITAL right now.

How Ted deals with this will be a big part of his legacy. If he can find a way to overcome this, and he should be able to, he will have more power and effectiveness as a result. This can be turned into a positive. If he doesn't handle it well, everyone's radar will be up. People will remember the ones that came before him. And his power will be nullified. Great leaders find ways…and I think Ted has that in him.

The players of the NHL are the reason the sport exists. They hire the PA so they can play hockey and not worry about the business. There is a huge peace of mind that comes from knowing how those you hired are working on other things for your benefit and you can do what you do. Ted Saskin is someone the players still feel that way about. That is obvious from talking to over a hundred of them. They just want to know they don't have to worry about this anymore. Time to put away the suits and put on the skates.



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