SBJ/May 14 - 20, 2007/This Weeks News

Players end Saskin’s stormy tenure at NHLPA

The controversial reign of Ted Saskin as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association ended last week, almost two years after it began, when NHLPA player representatives voted to fire him after reviewing a report from an outside attorney about allegations that he read players’ personal e-mails.

Ted Saskin

All 22 player representatives on the call last Thursday voted to fire Saskin, according to one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Players deferred the question of whether Saskin would get a severance package until after union-hired investigator Sheila Block issues a report on the hiring of Saskin and the firing of his predecessor, Bob Goodenow, among other things. Block’s report is expected sometime this summer.

Saskin, who could not immediately be reached for comment, makes about $2 million a year. NHLPA player representatives voted unanimously to put Saskin and senior business director Ken Kim on paid leave in March after union lawyers told the players that Saskin and Kim had acknowledged reading players’ personal e-mails.

The NHLPA, in a press release, said that Saskin was terminated and that the executive board of the union, made up of the player reps, “is considering its options with respect to Ken Kim.”

Some early media reports said Kim had been fired as well. But sources said that player reps were told Kim had cooperated in the union’s investigation, and that player reps would wait to see whether Kim cooperates further before making a determination on him.

Saskin’s hiring has been questioned by a group of players since the NHLPA sent out a news release on July 28, 2005, stating that Goodenow had resigned and Saskin had been appointed in his place. The players, led by retired player Trent Klatt and the Detroit Red Wings’ Chris Chelios, contended that Saskin’s hiring violated the union’s constitution.

The dissidents also alleged that Goodenow’s firing and the negotiation of the NHL collective-bargaining agreement that ended the NHL lockout also violated the NHLPA constitution. After the group lobbied for an investigation into the union for 18 months, player reps agreed in January to hire Block.

In March, news broke that Toronto police were investigating whether Saskin and other NHLPA employees accessed e-mails sent over players’ NHLPA.com accounts. The e-mails that were allegedly accessed, according to sources and news accounts, were those sent out by players who were questioning Saskin’s hiring and calling for an investigation into his activities.

A source said last week that the lawyer hired by the NHLPA to advise player reps on whether to fire Saskin had told players that as many as 40 people’s e-mail accounts were accessed, including correspondence between players and agents and one player’s personal, non-NHLPA.com account.

Sources said that player was Klatt, former member of the NHLPA executive committee and the first to question Saskin’s hiring.

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