Friday, September 02, 2005


The Saskin Story

Tim Panaccio has an interesting story in today's Inquirer regarding the the conference call that lasted 5.5 hours two nights ago that made Saskin the official guy...

There is some unrest among players and others about how this went down. Talking to a player who called me last evening, while I was out with family and friends bowling...he said, "We love Ted. Ted's our man. But why all the secrecy? Why the emergency meeting? Why no secret ballot as is in the constitution? You can't have a secret ballot on the phone..."

I also talked to a pair of player reps with interesting opinions. The first said, from his locker room following a scrimmage, "There are 35 guys in this room that don't have a problem with it. We needed Ted to have full power moving forward. We could have waited, but what's the point? There are some agents stirring the pot for their own interest. Guys who probably wanted the job. We are united."

Another player rep, who also called me during my bowling game, said, "We didn't want OLN or others to think that there was any unrest among us. It was decided during the day yesterday that this is how it should go. I did fight at first to wait and have this brought before my teamates in a vote...especially because of the faction that was bringing legal stuff. they were pretty convincing. But so were Guerin and the end of the day we don't need that. It is time to play hockey. Everyone is tired of this."

Those legal actions he mentioned have to do with a lawyer, formerly employed by the NBA, that Klatt and Irbe reportedly had hired to look into the actions that occurred going back to Bob's removal. There are two very different stories going around about how Bob's leaving went down....

One goes the way it was reported. That the executive committee met and discussed Bob's future and it was mutually agreed to.

The other version that is buzzing around goes this way. The executive committee met to discuss it, Bob got wind of it through one of them, Bob approached Linden, Linden got into a heated discussion about it and fired him on the spot.

If the latter was true (and I honestly don't know because i wasn't there) there would be serious issues with the NHLPA constitution...

I do know that Trevor, Ted, and Shanahan were the heroes of the lockout on the PA side, without them there would be no hockey at all...I know many stories that I probably shouldn't know about that.

"But there are procedures for a reason" one source said. Another source added, "I talked to Bob, and he had absolutely no intention of leaving."

Fast forward to Wednesday Night's Conference Call....The first vote was taken to see if a vote should be taken immediately or if the reps should discuss it with their players and vote in a few days.. That vote was deadlocked at 17-17, with Trevor casting the deciding vote to vote now...Then, after several hours of serious debates, Ted was voted in by an overwhelming margin...31-6...(although I have heard other final tallies as well..20-6 with some guys not voting...either way it is a big majority..)

There was no secret ballot as is required by the constitution...A high source at the PA said, "player reps are supposed to be voted in by certain procedures as well, but that never happens either. This constitution was made by Alan when there were twelve teams. It needs to be looked at again."

The PA source went on to say, "There is a vocal minority, led by people with their own interests, that are stirring this pot. The majority of players are emailing us thrilled with the decision."

I have to say, talking to a well respected hockey guy, that it isn't just the fringe that are concerned. One of the most respected people in hockey said this, "I hate to say it, but stuff like this throws up red flags to those of us who were around during past years. Making up the rules as you go along stuff. It makes me crazy! Is the way it is going to be again? It lloks like they acted out of panic to me. Ted is the guy."

Although this source had a great point I feel that the PA deserves a bit of a mulligan here. Things have been crazy and there is a lot of nervousness in an organization just dying for stability. Ted represents that stability to these guys. To say this points to a trend to buck the by-laws is premature. Should people be alert for stuff like this down the line? Always. We can't let things get out of hand and have seasons at risk. I think everyone would agree to that. People should be held accountable.

If a search had been done, a secret ballot cast, all parts of the constitution adhered to, the end product would have been Ted, and Ted is not Alan or Bob. Ted is Ted and let's see what he can do.

He is one of the good guys. He has a good marketing head on him. He has the respect of the league and the players have always been comfortable with him. People outside the NHL are comfortable with him...all this is very important. Especially following up the travesty of a season lost.

As one player said to me, "Who the hell else would we hire?.Now let's play hockey."

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