Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The end for Saskin?

The best piece written so far on the ridiculousness that has been going on with the NHLPA and its executive director Ted Saskin came from the New York Post's Larry Brooks, who gets all of the nasty details from last week's conference call out in the open (something Tom Benjamin pointed out a few days ago):
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.

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.
At one point, there was even a player rep vote for Saskin to be cut off the call, one that passed almost unanimously.

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

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At 8:49 a.m., January 31, 2007, Blogger Julian said...

I think there's a general lack of blogs on the business end of the NHL, Tom's is really the only one out there, and it sorta evolved into that place. Other sites certainly talk about the business stuff, but maybe only once every bunch of posts, and none are as indepth as Tom is.

At 9:34 a.m., January 31, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I actually don't think it is all that important or has significant implications. At least not in the near future until the new CBA negotiations take place. Saskin doesn't actually have a lot of say in the game of hockey from a fans perspective. His imput on rules changes, marketing, etc. are minimal.

At 9:40 a.m., January 31, 2007, Blogger BlackCapricorn said...

James- thanks for the great read. I agree with Julian, there is a lot of virtual ink spilt on whether Forsberg will be moving but not a lot about the business side of things. And even less so on this fascinating soap opera that is the NHLPA. After reading this, I think Saskin is out but who will replace him?

At 3:04 p.m., January 31, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry Brooks may be many things, but he has been the lone voice in the wilderness during the entire lockout and on all things CBA.

He was one of the few that pointed out the hypocrisy of ticket sales and slary cap, while most of the fans were byuing Bettman's Kool-Aid.

At 4:45 p.m., January 31, 2007, Anonymous Scott said...

Don't forget Lyle and Tom.

At 8:17 p.m., January 31, 2007, Anonymous ken said...

Hey, Anonymous, right on!

At 2:28 p.m., February 02, 2007, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...


While I don't mind some focus on the business side of things, the NHLPA's internal fighting is, quite frankly, quite boring. We had a whole year of nothing but petty fighting between millionaires and had more than our fair share of 'business' BS.
It's much more fun for most involved to focus on what actually happens on the ice.


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