The end for Saskin?
It is only unfortunate that NHL games are not as entertaining or as raucous as the PA conference call on Thursday night, on which the player reps voted overwhelmingly to hire noted Toronto litigator Sheila Block to lead the investigation after Saskin and assorted allies attempted to deny them the right to hire whomever they pleased to lead the inquiry.At one point, there was even a player rep vote for Saskin to be cut off the call, one that passed almost unanimously.
Saskin, who at one point during the call had the operator put the player reps on mute so he could deliver a speech without interruption, argued that Block was "tainted" and should be disqualified because of a previous association with Chris Chelios and the rapidly growing platoon of militants led by him, Dwayne Roloson, Matt Schneider and Eric Lindros.
And if that's not a sign of where Saskin is at this point, I don't know what is.
The thing is, Block's credibility is such that it's almost unquestionable. She's not going into this for a witch hunt, regardless of whatever minor affiliations she may have had with Chelios in the past.
Besides, if Saskin has nothing to hide in all of the mess that went on during the summer coming out of the lockout, why is he so concerned about who will be doing the digging?
Here's Brooks again:
But the more questions that go unanswered, the more documents that are not produced under the guise of confidentiality, the less time Saskin will have in his term as Gary Bettman's junior partner.Is the fact Saskin is in cahoots with the league (if you accept that premise) the reason the union is looking for this inquiry? I don't think so, but it makes for a good conspiracy theory.
Still, it's hard to argue the terms of the newest CBA have really put that much of a drag on player salaries, especially when it's expected the salary cap will top $50-million in the next season or two. But what we are seeing here is evidence of something that's a little bit more subtle than a conspiracy theory allows: What began with a few lone dissidents has begun to spread as Saskin continues to mishandle the disagreement within his union.
Whereas Bob Goodenow, for all his faults, always came across as suave and staunchly behind his players' (united) cause, Saskin has been flustered and obstinate in the face of adversity from the start. And now his players are anything but united (funny being that they're a "union"), and balking at the very thought of listening to him bleat out his arguments against them.
When it comes right down to it, Saskin works for them — and he could just as easily not, especially under the circumstances.
Brooks thinks this is the end for Saskin. And while I'm well aware of his biases, I'm having a hard time disagreeing with him — regardless of what Block finds.
- P.S. Other than Benjamin, who made a lot of the same points I did here, there's been oh-so-little written about this in the blogosphere recently. I think it deserves at least some attention given the implications