NHL Union Leader Placed on Paid Leave

Monday, March 12th 2007, 6:24 am
By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) _ NHL Players' Association executive director Ted Saskin and senior director Ken Kim, accused of monitoring player e-mails, were placed on paid leaves Sunday night following a vote by the 30 players representatives.

The players also voted to seek independent counsel to help guide them through an internal review. The six-member interim executive committee, which did not vote during the conference call, will be responsible for recommending that independent lawyer.

The conference call began with NHLPA associate counsels Stu Grimson and Ian Penny and director of hockey affairs Mike Gartner updating the player reps and interim executive committee on the allegations that Saskin ordered the monitoring of NHLPA player e-mails. The e-mail system the players use is administered by the union.

Grimson, Penny and Gartner stayed on for the entire call and players voted on whether to put Saskin and Kim on paid leave as well as vote on getting outside counsel.

The players reps on the call included Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios, the leader in the effort to unseat Saskin.

Saskin's troubles began his very first day on the job as executive director on July 28, 2005. Instead of taking over on an interim basis and forming a search committee to interview other candidates, Saskin immediately replaced Bob Goodenow as executive director after negotiating a five-year contract with former players' president Trevor Linden.

That's when then-executive committee member Trent Klatt felt uneasy with the quick transition and began to voice his dissent. Steve Larmer, the director of player relations at the NHLPA, agreed with Klatt and resigned in protest in November 2005. Chelios joined forces with Klatt and their persistence over the last 18 months led to an internal review currently being conducted by Toronto lawyer Sheila Block.

Chelios convinced player reps to approve hiring Block in late January to conduct an internal review of the NHLPA and look into the hiring of Saskin. Block's review is slated to be completed by early summer.

The turmoil within the union ranks follows a contentious labor agreement that saw the union yield to a salary cap.

Saskin joined the NHLPA in 1992 and was credited with helping the union increase its revenue in the licensing department.