Friday, July 14, 2006

Saskin Consolidating Power

The NHLPA is as weak an organization as it has ever been in its history. It is reasonable to question whether or not the players would be better off without an NHLPA, since the NHLPA has given into owner's demands so frequently and without a central bargaining authority for the players this would not be possible.

The NHLPA seems to be mostly in the business of keeping itself alive. Ted Saskin is working hard to keep his job as NHLPA head. That seems to be his major job. His job is not to help the players, it is to keep his job. For example, he worked on keeping the salary cap this year LOWER than the CBA would have called for. This was done because the expected increase in player's escrow payments would have lead to uhappiness among the NHLPA ranks and might have lead to calls for Ted Saskin's ouster as NHLPA head.

Former player Trent Klatt has lead a dissident group of players unhappy with the way Sakin took over from Bob Goodenow and caved to the owners demands to end the lockout. This group has attempted to legally challenge this process with little success. Since most of the politically active players in Klatt's group are older players, it appears that Saskin has tried to wait them out until they retire (with some success). This group is losing any momentum it ever had and appears willing to give up after a meeting held in Whistler this week.

Trevor Linden will not run again to be the player in charge of the NHLPA. After last season when he managed only 7 goals in 82 games for the Vancouver Canucks, it is possible that his career may be over. Ted Saskin has used this to take more power in the NHLPA. There is no longer one player in charge. There will be a group of seven players. That allows Saskin more autonomy from the players since there is no one guy who is in charge like Linden was. The seven players who will be "in charge" of the NHLPA are Kevyn Adams of Carolina, Alyn McCauley of Los Angeles, Wade Redden of Ottawa, Mathieu Schneider of Detroit, Marty Turco of Dallas and two more players to be named in the European executive committee meeting to be held in August. Basically, Saskin can run the NHLPA with little input from these players (they haven't all been named yet!) in the short term. If that ever changes, it will require a strong challenge from somewhere and no one player is clearly the man in charge of that challenge. There is a group of seven where nobody is in charge. Effectively, this means Ted Saskin is in charge with more power than before.

Does the NHLPA do anything to help the players? Its not entirely clear to me that it does, but it isn't going away. It is taking steps to perpetuate itself.

NOTE: The article about the Whistler meeting is from the Globe and Mail and requires registration. If this is a problem, try

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